Adventure Therapy is a diverse field of practice combining one or all aspects of nature, adventure and experiential activities with an intention to achieve therapeutics outcomes for those involved.

Adventure Therapy is an approach that is used in a variety of sectors including youth development, mental health services, alternative education, youth justice, corrections, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, child welfare services, family services, occupation therapy, and schools.  Adventure therapy practitioners come from a wide range of backgrounds including social work, counselling, psychology, occupational therapy, outdoor instruction, youth work, education, and human services.

History

What we currently call adventure therapy has been around for many many generations, in different cultures in many different shapes and forms.  Many indigenous cultures have used adventuring in nature as a way of growing and developing their young people. There are many forms of rituals, celebrations and traditions in nature that are part of the healing, learning and growth around the world.

In New Zealand we have traditionally placed great value in the outdoors.  Maori have a strong connection with the land and place a high value on that connection throughout many cultural practices.  The early European settlers certainly would have had an adventure moving to the rugged landscape of New Zealand!  All of which has probably contributed to the clean, green New Zealand where people love hunting, fishing, diving, tramping, mountaineering and simply getting to the beach!

Adventure Therapy as it is more commonly understood has developed in New Zealand since the 1980’s.  Since then we have had a variety of programmes running with social services, mental health, corrections, youth justice, families, education, among many other sectors.

International

There is a large community of Adventure Therapy practitioners worldwide.  Check out the International Adventure Therapy website https://internationaladventuretherapy.org/

To date there have 7 International Adventure Therapy Conferences (IATC).  The IATC occurs every 3 years in different parts of the world.  New Zealand has been influential in the international AT community from the very start and hosted the 4th IATC in Rotorua in 2006.  The 8th IATC is in Sydney in 2018 – something to put in your diary now! 29 Aug – 2 Sep 2018 Check out the following facebook page or website for more info https://www.facebook.com/8IATC/ or https://internationaladventuretherapy.org/8iatc/