Rock Climbing Therapy

Rock Climbing & Therapy

You might be thinking, "What does rock climbing have to do with therapy?"

Surprisingly, the answer is "More than you might think".


Multiple studies have been conducted on climbing and bouldering as a treatment for depression. Climbing is also being researched in relation to its impact on self-efficacy and adolescents with ADHD symptoms. Although the field of therapy is just at the beginning of considering the positive therapeutic impacts of climbing, many of the initial results are promising. Several articles published to professional journals about using rock climbing and bouldering for therapeutic outcomes are listed here.

Indoor rock climbing (Bouldering) as new treatment for depression

A german climbing study on depression

A case study of rock climbing self-efficacy

Why Rock Climbing?

Rock climbing contains unique parallels between the skills necessary to rock climb and skills that help us to navigate aspects of our lives. For teens who have tried therapy in the past but lacked engagement, the physical aspects, challenge, and fun of rock climb provides a new opportunity for the counselor and client to connect and for the client to connect to the process. For others, rock climbing provides a kinesthetic experience that can help us improve our somatic awareness, help teach us affect regulation skills, and help us set and communicate boundaries. Here's a list of additional benefits that are possible outcomes of participating in clinical rock climbing therapy.

  • Using kinesthetic activities to heighten the development of various therapeutic skills, such as grounding skills or mindfulness skills

  • Development of mindfulness and grounding techniques

  • Increased ability to recognize, set, uphold and communicate boundaries

  • Increased effective communication skills

  • Increased awareness of somatic (body) responses and cues

  • Increase awareness of internal dialogues and acquired beliefs

  • Increased physical and body capabilities and improved flexibility

  • Utilization of metaphor between kinesthetic experience and day-to-day life

  • Experiences related to overcoming perceived limitations

  • Increased ability to respond to perceived failure

  • Increased ability to set a goal and break down steps to achieve the goal

  • Increased connections or development of broader community within the activity of rock climbing

How does it work?

Counseling Process

While using rock climbing in the therapy process is a little different, therapy will still contain all the important aspects of conducting clinical therapy. You can expect to be informed about the counseling process, an initial evaluation, collaborative goal setting with the therapist, utilizing interventions and the therapy process to achieve goals, and an ongoing feedback process to make sure you feel like you're making progress toward your goals. As you begin conversations with the counselor, your counselor will talk about whether or not climbing is a good option for your specific goals. You can expect Rock Climbing sessions to include some time for stretching and warming up, checking in with any followup items from last session, introduction of a therapeutic skill, practice and implementation of skill, and time spent on climbing related goals.

Clinical Rock Climbing Therapy Logistics

All climbing therapy sessions are done at a local climbing gym near Cincinnati. Typical sessions last either approximately 50 or 80 minutes. Here's a few other helpful bullet points.

  • You'll need to complete a liability waiver for the climbing gym. This can be done online.

  • The climbing gym will provide all rental climbing equipment that's needed. If you have your own rock climbing gear, you're welcome to use it.

  • A gym employee will give you a brief tour of the gym and inform you about the rules and important safety information related to climbing and bouldering.

  • Your counselor will talk with you about efforts made to maintain confidentiality (and you can look at the FAQ's at the bottom of this page for more information).

For more information or to get started, contact Collin at or at 513-201-5858.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What if I'm not comfortable meeting in a public setting like this?

A: Your counselor will talk with you about this prior to meeting in a climbing gym setting. Despite operating in a public setting, we take multiple steps to continue to maintain confidentiality and as much privacy as possible. This includes a separate check in process at the gym, being able to enter through an alternative entrance, using private spaces in the gym to brief and debrief sessions, and attempting to utilize space in the gym that is not overly crowded. We may be able to schedule sessions at times when the rock climbing gym is less busy. During climbing times that are busier it's quite easy to blend in and appear just as any other two people who are present at the gym to climb.

Q: Is therapy suppose to be fun? How will my son or daughter learn something if it's just "fun and games"?

A: If you ever have concerns about what your son our daughter is receiving out of the counseling process, it's always best to talk with the counselor. And yes, therapy can be a lot of fun. Sometimes we think of consequences or advice-giving as the best ways for individuals to learn or change. While we can learn from consequences, there's a lot more avenues to learning and growth than we might think.

If you're interested in Rock Climbing Therapy or want to get more information, please contact Collin at or 513-201-5858