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Negotiating the Cancer Experience through Challenge Course Programming

Bruce Martin, Diane Groff, Claudio Battaglini


 The purpose of this study was to explore the therapeutic value of a challenge course program to the process of breast cancer recovery. Narrative research methods were used to explore how a group of women with breast cancer used a challenge course program to negotiate the meaning of their experiences with breast cancer. The women were enrolled in an integrative exercise and recreation therapy program for women recovering from breast cancer, and the challenge course program served as one component of this program. The meaning of the challenge course experience was framed largely through the series of reflective conversations held by the program participants and facilitators following each group initiative. Consequently, these conversations served as the primary data source for this study, and the researchers used a form of discourse analysis to analyze the data. The researchers identified three primary themes that illustrate the value of the challenge course experience to the participants in the study: Different Journeys, Mutual Support,  and Re-Authoring Selves and Identities. The findings from this study support challenge course programming as an opportunity for participants to engage in the dialogue necessary to help construct personal narratives that are positive and constructive to the recovery process.


adventure experience; challenge course programming; breast cancer; narrative therapy; recreational therapy; adventure therapy; explanatory style

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