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Date of Award

8-2017

Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Psychological Science

Committee Chair

Jennifer Antick, PsyD

Abstract

Participation in adventure programming has been associated with improvements in physical, social, and psychological functioning for individuals who experience disability or illness. In this study, the impact of a therapeutic adventure program on adult burn survivors was examined using qualitative analysis of participant responses to open-ended interview questions. The adventure experiences referred to in this study were two, four-day kayaking/rafting trips conducted in 2013 and 2014. The total number of participants included eleven men and six women (n=17) between 20 and 63 years of age (mean = 45.23) who were 2-40 years post injury (mean – 16.47). Fifteen of 17 had a history of upper extremity amputations and/or >60% total body surface area (TBSA) burn injury. Following each trip a group format interview was conducted and video-recorded. Group members were invited to respond to a series of questions related to the adventure experience, the impact of the group, and self-reflection. Five significant themes emerged: (1) Positive experience with the group, (2) Positive experience with the therapeutic adventure, (3) Post-traumatic growth, (4) Bigger purpose, and (5) Burn survival experience. The Adventure Experience Paradigm (AEP) is presented as a model to understand the therapeutic effects of participation in outdoor adventure and future research exploring the balance between perceived risk and perceived competence is suggested.

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