May 17, 2020

Success for addicts: the business of adventure based therapy

4 min
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Written by Haleigh Adventure-based addiction therapy is a form of experiential psychotherapy that encourages recovering addicts to build new coping sk...

Written by Haleigh


Adventure-based addiction therapy is a form of experiential psychotherapy that encourages recovering addicts to build new coping skills, confidence and problem-solving strategies through participation in outdoor recreation and games. Adventure-based therapy takes place near or on the grounds of an inpatient rehab facility and involves conquering man-made challenge courses like rock climbing walls and rope courses, as well as taking part in simple games and interpersonal skills-building exercises. It is not to be confused with some other types of experiential psychotherapy, which may involve camping or even long-term living in the wilderness.

Adventure-based therapy is particularly effective for addiction because it helps recovering addicts get in touch with their emotions and opens up opportunities for new lines of communication between patient and therapist that may not be present in the traditional talk therapy setting. Experiential therapies can help recovering addicts develop and strengthen their interpersonal skills and reform destructive behavior patterns.

How Adventure-Based Therapy Works

Adventure-based therapy seeks to put the lessons learned in traditional therapy into practice. An experiential therapist gives each patient the opportunity to work toward his or her personal therapeutic goals in a safe but challenging setting. For example, a patient with poor boundaries, who has trouble asserting him- or herself, may be encouraged to set a boundary and quit navigating the ropes course when he or she is ready, regardless of how much of the challenge is completed. However, a patient who has trouble following through and tends to face life with a self-defeating attitude may be gently coaxed to finish the entire course.

The point is not to force each patient to complete each challenge, but to guide each patient in approaching each challenge in the way that best helps him or her to face fears, connect with his or her own feelings, live in the moment, let go of self-defeating beliefs and feelings, explore his or her spirituality, build trust and so on. At most inpatient rehab centers, like the Sierra Tucson Arizona drug rehab, adventure-based therapy is totally voluntary. Forcing recovering addicts to go through adventure-based therapy against their wills could be counterproductive and hamper recovery progress.

Benefits of Adventure-Based Therapy

Adventure-based therapy gives addiction specialists the chance to see how recovering addicts react to challenges in the heat of the moment. Through experiential psychotherapy, therapists can coach patients on how to put the lessons they’re learning in therapy into practice when they encounter situations that cause fear, stress, frustration and other negative emotions. Experiential therapists also use interpersonal skills-building exercises to coach recovering addicts on some of the everyday life skills they most often have trouble with, like asking for, receiving and giving help.

There’s more to it than that; adventure-based therapy also allows therapists to break through a patient’s emotional defenses. This is particularly important for recovering addicts, many of whom have spent years abusing substances in an effort to hide from uncomfortable feelings and who are consequently coming into treatment without the skills to identify and express their own feelings. Adventure-based therapy brings out those feelings, so the therapy team can work to help the patient process them.

 This form of therapy also involves many team-build activities and trust exercises, which enhance communication skills and strengthen the interpersonal skills needed for strong relationships with loved ones, friends and co-workers. Adventure-based therapy helps recovering addicts become aware of the emotions that lead to damaging and destructive behaviors, like shame and anger, and help them work on strategies to come to terms with those emotions in healthy ways.

Most of all, adventure-based therapy helps recovering addicts — particularly well-educated, high-functioning individuals — break free from the trap of intellectualization. Many intelligent, well-educated recovering addicts succumb to the belief that they can think their way out of a substance abuse disorder. In fact, the only way to recover from substance abuse issues is to acknowledge and work through the emotions behind the compulsive substance abuse and learn the skills necessary to continue coping with emotions in healthy ways.

For recovering addicts, adventure-based therapy that involves facing safe, man-made challenges and participating in trust-building exercises can have profound emotional and therapeutic benefits. It’s an excellent way for recovering addicts, who have often cut themselves off emotionally, get back in touch with their own emotional selves. When performed under the guidance of a qualified experiential psychotherapist, adventure-based therapy has the power to change lives.

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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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