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:
Sørlandet hospital, friluftsterapi:
Couple of links about research in Norway: