From battlegrounds to the backcountry : the intersection of masculinity and outward bound programming on psychosocial functioning for male military veterans
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This study investigates the promise of using therapeutic adventure as an alternative therapeutic approach to address a public health issue: Veterans reticence towards seeking mental health assistance, despite their rising rates of mental health issues. To examine how the intersection between conformity to traditional masculine norms and Outward Bound for Veterans (OB4V) programming impacted psychosocial development, a quasi-experimental, longitudinal design was implemented on 159 male Veterans. The primary goals were twofold: 1) to determine whether improvement in six therapeutic outcome variables occurred due to the OB4V intervention; 2) to discover whether male Veterans’ level of conformity to traditional masculine norms influenced change in the therapeutic outcome variables. Outcome variables included: 1) mental health status; 2) personal growth initiative; 3) attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help; 4) psychological mindedness; 5) restriction of emotions; 6) subjective wellbeing. Results indicated a significant effect of treatment, suggesting that the OB4V treatment promoted Veterans improvement in all the therapeutic outcome variables, except psychological mindedness. Findings also showed that the significant effect of treatment was associated with Veterans’ improvement in therapeutic outcome variables over all time points irrespective of their level of conformity to traditional masculine norms.