Equinox RTC Expands Experiential Therapy Programming with Fly Fishing Group
Equinox RTC, a residential treatment center for boys ages 14-18, has added fly fishing as an experiential therapy activity for students. Experiential therapy is one of the foundational components of Equinox’s trauma and relationship model of treatment. Experiential therapy is the capstone of a model in which all prior skills, therapy and neurological interventions are put to the test in real life application, thereby aiding adolescents to more successfully work through emotional and behavioral issues.
Studies have shown that fly fishing enhances mood and provides a full body workout, as well as lowering cortisol levels. Typical Equinox students have experienced trauma and suffer from a range of mental health issues as a result. Therefore, having an outlet like fly fishing can help them learn to deal with stress, anxiety, and depression outside of a traditional therapeutic setting.
The students started out learning the basics of fly fishing including how to use the rods and reels, and practiced mock casting in the grass without hooks to get a feel for how the process works. Students learned how to tie different knots and also learned the basics of entomology. Understanding the basics of this enables one to determine which flies to use and when. Once they had the foundation down, students first tried fishing in the pond on Equinox’s campus, then traveled to a few local rivers to test their skills.
Natalie Stark, TRS, CRTS, Director of Recreational Therapy at Equinox, says the fly fishing program has provided a new way for students to practice the Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills they’re learning. “Interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, all of these are DBT skills that the students can practice in a real life situation while they’re fishing,” Stark said. “There’s also the mindfulness component that is a foundational piece of DBT that comes out very naturally with fly fishing.”
All students participate in experiential learning. Students are put into experiential groups based on their individual needs. The fly fishing group is part of a specialty group specifically for those learning DBT skills. “We are focusing on using fly fishing as a way to develop fine motor skills, build mastery, and practice the use of DBT skills,” Stark said. The group caught their first fish last week, a rainbow trout, and is excited to continue to hone their fishing skills while also enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the activity.
About Equinox RTC
Equinox RTC is a leading residential treatment center for boys ages 14-18. Equinox is unique in its focus on Trauma, Loss, and Attachment, providing clinically intensive treatment for boys struggling with anxiety, depression, OCD, ASD, learning disabilities, and other emotional and behavioral needs. Equinox offers a combination of clinically sophisticated support with a whole-person approach including adventure therapy, health and fitness program, and a whole foods diet. Equinox provides a fully accredited school, with broad course selections taught by licensed teachers in a college-preparatory environment. For more information, visit equinoxrtc.com or call (877) 279-8925.