The power of healthy relationships

What creates positive change in people’s lives?

Research shows that healthy relationships with others is one of the biggest protective factors against negative life outcomes.

The skills that are vital for building healthy relationships are things like trust, communication, honesty, teamwork, reciprocity, dealing with emotions, and conflict resolution.

Our instructors discuss these skills during our outdoor adventure programmes, either during the facilitated discussions, or simply as situations arise during the outdoor activity or within the group dynamics.

For example, if the activity is rock climbing, then one person climbs and one person belays from the ground. The instructors talk about the importance of trust and communication. Is the climber able to trust the belayer to keep them safe? Is the belayer worthy of that trust? Can they communicate effectively to keep the climber safe going up and coming back down?

Another example is caving. For a lot of people, being in a dark cave and squeezing through a small space can be a very uncomfortable situation. There may be fear or distress or anxiety. So how do you deal with that? Can the group communicate with each other to keep together? Can they encourage anyone that is struggling? And what happens when all the torches, except one, get turned off? How do the participants respond to the emotions that might arise? How do they communicate their needs? How can the torch-holder act, to build trust and calm fears?

The instructors can also ask questions about the positive relationships in the participants’ lives. Even the people from the hardest backgrounds, those who have experienced trauma or violence or crime, those who have maybe been written off by society; they still have their stories to share of the positive relationships in their lives, the relationships that they value and that give them hope and a place to turn when they need support.

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