Velkomin – Välkommen – Tervetuloa – Velkommen – Welcome to the Nordic Outdoor Therapy Network

This is a homepage of Nordic Outdoor Therapy Network. This is a forum for inspiration, discussion, learning, and sharing the ideas for everyone who is into Outdoor Therapy in its broadest sense. We are eager to explore and conceptualize a Nordic approach to Outdoor Therapy and to promote the use of nature and the outdoors for therapeutic purposes in our part of the world.

Here in the north, our traditional and simple connection with nature and life in outdoors still thrives alongside urbanization and technological development. Some form of wilderness is seldom far away and many of us remain avid outdoor enthusiasts.

Freedom to roam or literally everyman’s right is unique to the Nordic countries. Foundation of the law is a respectful relationship between people and nature, allowing us to spend time in the vast mountains, forests, lakes and sea with countless islands. We are inspired to develop therapeutic modalities where we honor the mutuality between what nature offers, and what we can give back.

On this website, you will find a short introduction of the network, what is going on in different member countries and frequently updated list of Nordic publications on the field. Our network is emerging, thus activities and even concepts are developing.

 Are you working with or studying Outdoor Therapy, or otherwise interested in it? Please, feel free to contact us!

We also recommend you to join our Facebook group: Nordic Outdoor Therapy Network.

Foto: larsverket.photography

News

  • What happened in the field of outdoor therapy in the Nordic countries in 2018: Finland

    The Finnish adventure therapy network had three meetings in 2018, with the number of enthusiastic participants varying from eight to 19 people. Each of them consisted of thinking, discussing and doing, with discussion topics being inspired by the 2017 gathering of the Nordic network in Turku. The year’s first meeting was organized in February in the aptly-named Seikkailutalo (”Adventure House”) in Helsinki. Pekka held the strings, collecting ideas and discussion topics. Miia and Saara worked hard on the webpage of the Nordic network, while Markus talked about the ethics of adventure therapy, drawing ideas from the ethical principles of the Finnish Psychological Union, the best practices formulated for Finnish adventure education and ethical principles of TAPG. Everyone participated in the lively discussion on how to turn all the ideas into sensible business models. Applying for grants was seen as one way of getting started with the activities, with Satu and Kaisa having a lot of good ideas about where to apply for funding. These are only the subjective recollections of one person (Markus), and I apologize for all the great folks who were present and contributed to the discussion but whom I didn’t name here. When it comes to the doing part, we did a high ropes climbing activity that involved balancing on a ladder held by the other participants and depositing our bravest environmental action ideas in a pouch found at the top of the ladder. We also got to play around with the Adventure House’s drysuits, trying our best to jump through the hard sea ice and finally getting to float around in the icy water - with some passers-by wondering whether we were fully OK both mentally and physically. Topics that were discussed in all our meetings included the original nature of Finnish / Nordic adventure therapy, the question of who can be an adventure therapist and - the enduring question of all questions - what is adventure therapy? Co-operation with nearby fields and actors, such as the Finnish Adventure Education Network (http://www.snk.fi/seikkailukasvatus/) and Green Care Finland (http://gcfinland.fi/), was discussed, with especially Miia and Pekka being active in this respect. In addition, courses and further education on adventure therapy in Finland were important, enduring topics in our three meetings. As things currently stand, the ethos in the Finnish network with regard to these issues is one of maximal openness: we have considered it important that no one individual, organization or professional group claims possession of the idea of Finnish adventure therapy. Rather, the network aims to share knowledge, skills, ideas and information among its members - as openly as possible - so as to facilitate the growth of adventure / outdoor therapeutic ideas in Finland. The members of the network include psychologists, occupational therapists, psychotherapists from different backgrounds, wilderness guides, educators, nurses etc., and the wide range of professions and kinds of background knowledge has been seen as a particular strength of the network. The downside with openness of this kind is that the network is based on volunteer work, which carries with it the risk of the volunteers exhausting themselves with unpaid work. Because of these considerations, we have considered founding an organization to run the activity, but no decision has thus far been made. This year’s last meeting at the fabulous Youth Center Marttinen (https://www.marttinen.fi/) included discussion on the members’ interests, wishes and visions for the future. These included (in no specific order): - Performing academic research on the effectiveness of adventure (psycho-)therapy in Finland - Arranging more peer training in the future - Networking with and meeting people with whom it would be possible to work in the future - Ideas and background rationale for one’s own adventure / outdoor therapeutic work - Considering the role of therapeutic reflection as a part of adventure activities - Writing about the ethics of adventure therapy The meeting culminated in a wonderful and quite scary high ropes activity, jumping off an old railway bridge (Bridge Swing) in wintery conditions. The activity was a part of the peer training discussed above, and it was organized with the idea that members of the network with sufficient technical skills and qualifications could use a similar activity in their own work. Finnish adventure therapy was visible in two conferences. The Finnish national Adventure Education Days in March gathered about 200 participants and AT was strongly visible in lectures and workshops. Two Finnish representatives, Ville Turunen and Pekka Lyytinen participated in 8IATC. Pekka gave a workshop and together they gave two pop up-workshops in the conference. Pekka was also nominated as a Finnish representative in Adventure Therapy International Committee (ATIC) for the next three years together with Miia Riihimäki. Year 2019 will prove interesting in Finland, with a new intervention program beginning in Paimio (“Tyttö olet helmi!”), https://www.lastenkuntoutus.net/…/tytto_olet_helmi!_-toimin…) and with research into the effectiveness of adventure education experiences being a publicly stated area of emphasis of the Finnish Adventure Education Network. In addition, there are interesting individual projects going on in Finland, such as the climbing therapy workshop in Tampere, therapists using adventure methods in treating traumatized individuals (https://www.disso.fi/…/kir…/kehollinen-kokemus-voimavaraksi/) and several individual projects focusing on the therapeutic use of trekking. Upcoming events in Finland: Forest therapy days 2019: http://www.foresttherapydays.com/2019-2/ Climbing therapy workshop: https://web.facebook.com/events/115785632684249/ Adventure Education days: http://www.snk.fi/seikkailukas…/seikkailukasvatuspaivat.htmlRead More »
  • What happened in the field of outdoor therapy in the Nordic countries in 2018: Denmark

    The year of 2018 has been an exciting one for Denmark in regards to outdoor therapy, as we at our network meeting the 9-11 of march 208 decided to become an official association, and founded a board of 5 members, to facilitate the development of the Danish field. We have worked hard on the board of the ”Foreningen for udendørsterapi – Danmark” / Danish Outdoor Therapy Association”. The last weekend of september 2018 we signed off on our articles of association, and next off we focus on getting an account for the association, so we can start receiving membership fees. We work in different workgroups on the board, and plan to have a weekend seminar, where we can meet up and discuss common wishes, visions and goals, in order to make the association thrive. We hope that we in time can provide courses and lectures for people who are interested in the work of the association.
    The 1-3 of March 2019 we plan to have our 5th networkweekend, which is still in the planning process. During the last week of September 2018 we were out sailing with ”The good ship – LOA” in Aalborg. Here the participants had the opportunity to sail a tall-ship, and to listen to lectures on Naturetherapi, Adventure Therapy and the International Adventure Therapy Conference. We also had open discussions on the pros and cons with the use of outdoor therapy. Two members of the association who have a naturetherapeutical background, have started their own businesses, http://naturrefugium.dk/ and http://naturterapinord.dk/ Furthermore some have started doing individual consultation tasks. Line Steinkraus provides ”nature groups”, and Tinna J. Mariager holds lectures for students about the work of the association, adventure therapy, nature therapy, and outdoor therapy. We have also seen that individual psychologists include outdoor therapy as a part of their practice - to a smaller or larger degree - and are continually developing on this.
    Read More »
  • What happened in the field of outdoor therapy in the Nordic countries in 2018: Sweden

    Sweden is brewing with interest and excitement for the possibilities to form an active network between individuals and groups interested in developing the field of nature/forest/outdoor/eco/green/wilderness therapy and experiences. There are several ongoing individual projects around the country. Here are a few examples: Petra Ellora Cau Wetterholm describes her own work in forest therapy as follows: Nature based therapy and rehab (besides garden therapy, which already has an established position in Sweden) is just now starting to catch real interest over here, thus opening more opportunities to start to be taken seriously by the society at large. My own work within the field of Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy is spreading. I have worked guiding walks in various fields, for example expanding into more corporate work, contributing to big events and appearing in the media. It's been a busy year for me indeed! In the spring I held a talk and a workshop at the outdoor therapy conference in Bragdöya, Norway. It was fantastic to get to know many Norwegian and Danish leaders, therapists and people interested in the topic there. In August I presented my pilot study on guided Forest Therapy from Primary Health Care, for stress related disorders/exhaustion syndrome, anxiety and depression, at the International Forest Therapy Days, IFTD, in Finland (http://www.foresttherapydays.com/year2018/) and conducted workshops for a great bunch of lovely people. And last but not least, I led a forest bathing training course in Turkey! At the moment I am working more in depth to create a system of education and training in this field, more adhering to professionals who wish to use Forest Therapy for a clinical population. I am also writing a book on the subject. Niklas Taliaferro has together with a team created and is teaching a year-long “folkhögskolekurs”, called “Naturliv”. Thirty students have the opportunity to learn hard and soft skills about living in and with nature. He is also running programs with schools, focusing on nature connection and community building. Maria Palmer located during 2018 enthusiasm to develop a Wilderness therapy pilot project for youth in Härjedalen. She will continue to network with people who are local to this area. There is very good response from individuals with interest to combine clinical treatment for youth and families with being in nature. Vildmarksterapi I Sverige (VIS) will continue with the mission of making this a reality. Seeds are planted, and begin to take root, as NUR, (Naturunderstödd rehabilitering, Nature supported rehabilitation) is taking place in different parts of the country. For example: Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet (SLU) gives courses in garden therapy and two Vårdcentraler (health centers) in the Stockholm area will start projects that include NUR. Petra and Maria are creating their own version of this; combining Nature and Forest therapy with clinical group therapy at a community health center. They lead groups of patients with mental health issues and have very good results. Maria was fortunate to represent Sweden at the invigorating and inspiring 8AITC in Australia in September. She is now on a mission to spur interested people in Sweden to become organized around the theme Outdoor Therapy.Read More »
  • What happened in the field of outdoor therapy in the Nordic countries in 2018: Norway

    It seems fair to say that the focus on using outdoor experiences in some form of therapeutic sense is on the rise. At least we have started the process of knowing of one another and learning from one another. This said, outdoor therapy in Norway is still not a unified group and some players in the field keep mostly to themselves. We have yet to have the discussions if we would benefit by organizing ourselves through an organization, or not. Our network is informally called "Utendørsterapi - Outdoor Therapy Norway", and is for the time being headed by Elisabeth Hovland, Sophia Hjorth and Lise Skogstad Loftsgaard. This network communicates through a Facebook group with the same name. Recently the county of Møre and Romsdal formed a local network and there is also a vibrant community within our field in the Agder region. 2018 saw two conferences that fully or in part dealt with outdoor therapy/ mental health work in the outdoors; one at Gardermoen in March and one at Bragdøya in Kristiansand in May. In addition there was a conference on outdoor rehabilitation in Nordland in September and one on friluftsliv (open air life) research in Tønsberg in December. Norway has several renowned educations in friluftsliv. This year the University of South-Eastern Norway also started a course in friluftsliv and outdoor rehabilitation. At the University of Agder planning of a course in outdoor mental health work is well on the way. There is a steady increase in Bachelor and Master level thesis, as well as research publications, that all in some way focus on outdoor therapy. No doubt the main news for 2018 is that Norway was selected as host for the next International Adventure Therapy Conference (9IATC). This major undertaking will take place end June 2021 and the location will be on the coast at Odderøya in Kristiansand as well as inland in the Setesdalen region. The planning for this event is well on the way, and we will in the near future ask for help from you our Nordic friends. Having the entire international adventure therapy community land on our Nordic region is an honour, an opportunity to promote ourselves, and of course a major responsibility. Still, we are certain we will pull this off to become a great experience for everyone. Remember also that there will be opportunities for conducting pre- and post conferences throughout our entire region, so we already invite you all to be creative. Norway´s representatives to the Adventure Therapy International Committee (ATIC) are Leif Roar Kalleberg and Carina Ribe Fernee. Carina also chairs the committee together with three representatives from New Zealand, Canada and England. In 2019 the third Camp Conference will be held on 21st - 23rd of May. Chances are also that we will see the defence of a PhD research project that in its entirety is devoted to outdoor therapy. Arguably the single most important challenge for 2019, and beyond, is to further strengthen our common identity and tighten the communication between us. Here we have somewhat to learn from several of our good Nordic neighbours. A couple of links related to outdoor therapy in Norway and the webpages of companies offering outdoor therapy. Norwegian outdoor therapy Facebook group: https://web.facebook.com/groups/1782995478667686/ Sørlandet hospital, friluftsterapi: https://www.friluftsterapi.com/ Motiva Norway: https://www.motivanorway.com/en/ Norsk Mestring: https://www.norskmestring.no/ Couple of links about research in Norway: https://www.norskfriluftsliv.no/friluftsterapi-som-behandl…/ https://www.norskfriluftsliv.no/her-kan-du-se-direkte-fra…/… https://scholar.google.fi/scholar…Read More »
  • Nordic Outdoor Therapy meeting in Finland

    If we are to believe Martin Ringer, a well-known professional within Adventure Therapy, what happened these days in October is nothing less than history being made. Whether all the participants themselves would describe it like that, is hard to say, but there is no doubt that great things were being discussed.Read More »