Meet Nick: A Q&A on Adventure-Based Therapy

I sat down with our Clinical Therapist, Nick Magle-Haberek to learn about what it is like to be an Adventure-Based Therapist and his practice at BaMidbar.

So Nick-

Tell me a little bit about yourself:
My name is Nick Magle-Haberek.  I’m 37 years old, and when I’m not a therapist I love being outdoors, playing with my kids (2 and 5), throwing clay, and training for triathlons.  

What drew you to become a therapist?
Initially, I really thought I was destined to become some sort of outdoor guide.  I had a mentor suggest that I work wilderness therapy as it was a good way to “hone my skills” and created a lifestyle where I could climb and ski a lot.  It turns out I fell in love with using wilderness and adventure activities to connect with people and change their current direction.

What is adventure therapy?
“Adventure Therapy is the prescriptive use of adventure experiences provided by mental health professionals, often conducted in natural settings that kinesthetically engage clients on cognitive, affective, and behavioral levels” (Gass, Gillis, and Russell, 2012).  What that actually means is that as an adventure therapist I use activities and experiences to help people connect with their thoughts, feelings and actions. I also add that adventure therapy helps people connect with what their body feels like during different emotions.  The BEST part about all of this is that it happens in a very fun and exciting context.

Why are you drawn to this type of therapeutic care?
I think that what started it was how much I learned about myself as a result of my involvement in outdoor adventures.  Once I had my foot in the door though, the thing that consistently validated my involvement in the field was the number of transformative moments I’ve been blessed to witness.  

What’s it like to work at BaMidbar?
I find it to be really validating, rewarding and challenging.  It’s amazing to take something like wilderness and adventure therapy and integrate it with Jewish tradition and culture.  It leads to a lot of interesting conversations, and ultimately to a lot of learning from a team of people that are all brilliant, caring and engaged.  

What do you enjoy most about interacting with participants?
Their willingness to be real and try new things.  Most new participants are caught off guard when I say we are going to play a game or do an activity for group, but it’s amazing how quickly they are willing to take a chance and dive into what we are doing!

What do you hope for the future of BaMidbar?
One thing that drives me in my career is creating and practicing “clinically sophisticated” Adventure Therapy.  I feel excited to know that others at BaMidbar share a similar vision, and with all of the conversations that we have about how to make our approaches more intentional, this goal just seems to develop and evolve before my eyes.  It’s amazing!

Over the summer months BaMidbar has been working on bettering our systems. What are some of the areas you are working on?
I’m working on getting BaMidbar accredited by the Association of Experiential Education (AEE) and the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) Council.  I’m also helping to streamline admissions and discharge procedures, looking at our research practices, streamlining documentation software and road tripping with my kids!

When sitting around a campfire, what is your favorite thing to be doing?
Drinking coffee!  BaMidbar has a pretty great coffee crew!

And last one… what’s your favorite outdoor item/tool?
I have a small obsession with “puffy jackets.”  I have a whole quiver of them at home for all conditions!

Thank you Nick for being on our team!