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Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Centers

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Mirasol Offers Backpacking as Part of Its Innovative Eating Disorder Treatment Program

Research conducted by Mirasol has demonstrated that adventure-based therapy is highly effective in the treatment of eating disorders. Mirasol recently expanded its alternative eating disorder treatment program to include backpacking as well as hiking, camping and caving.

Tucson, AZ, May 20, 2015 --( Wilderness therapy — also known as adventure-based therapy — is a well-established intervention for a variety of psychological disorders including substance abuse, adjudicated youth, PTSD, depression and anxiety disorder. For the treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia, the "gold standard" is generally cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, research conducted by Mirasol has demonstrated that adventure-based therapy is also highly effective in the treatment of eating disorders.

Women with eating disorders tend to be overly analytical, self-critical and completely dissociated from their bodies. The goal of adventure-based therapy is to create unusual, physically and emotionally challenging circumstances that stimulate problem-solving and coping strategies. By requiring clients to work together to solve common problems, adventure therapy also promotes the development of social skills and self-confidence.

Challenge courses, hiking and other outdoor activities have been part of Mirasol's eating disorder treatment program since its founding in 1999. Executive Director Diane Ryan began including including camping, hiking and even caving in 2006. The response from clients and staff was overwhelmingly positive. More importantly, EEG brain maps and standard psychological tests demonstrated significant decreases in symptoms of anxiety and depression.

"There was a significant improvement in brain functioning for most participants, especially in the beta waves that are generally associated with anxiety,” says Ryan. "Most clients also reported a decrease in symptoms of depression and an increase in their ability to cope with stress, as measured by a Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) and Coping Skills Inventory (CSI)."

Mirasol recently expanded its adventure therapy program to include backpacking, and now offers bimonthly two- and three-day trips, taking advantage of Arizona's wealth of impossibly lovely wild public lands. Each trip includes a 50-50 split of medically- and emotionally-appropriate clients and the clinical staff required to ensure their safety and support them in their journey.
For more information, visit or call 888-520-1700.
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Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Centers
Marion MacDonald

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