Finland

It is often said that Finland is a country of hundreds of thousands of lakes and a treasure chest of the green gold. One couldn’t agree more!

An endless patchwork of blue lakes and green forests is our special feature. That is why our outdoor life is often concentrated on hiking in the wilderness, canoeing and rowing on lakes of the wild Lapland or sailing, kayaking and camping in the coastal archipelago of Finland. When the winter time comes, all that green and blue is covered with white powder and sparkling frost. Many Finns consider skiing one of their favourite sports and it is still a useful way of transport in some areas. As said, Finland is a long country thus our geology and weather conditions vary and so does the way of outdoor life.

Finnish people have always had a strong bond with outdoors through agriculture, forest industry and ancient nature mythology. Things have changed and Finland is a hi-tech country nowadays, yet people are looking for connection to the nature. “The wilderness tradition” as we call it in Finnish, ‘eräperinne’, used to be the core of everyday life for Finns. Though technological transition have moved most of the everyday living to cities, still the form of this tradition has remained.

Although the current way of living doesn’t require hard outdoor work, people tend to spend their free time outdoors in different activities or rural summer cottages. It seems that people have needs of simplicity, physical activity and adventurous experiences. These are also supported by social and political actions to preserve and provide natural areas. Law promotes outdoor life by everyman’s rights as in other nordic countries. Effects of the environment have also been studied plenty in the academic field.

Adventure and Outdoor Education, in Finnish Seikkailukasvatus, has operated in Finland since 1990’s. In the beginning of the 21st century, it has been organized nationwide through a network. This has developed the ground for the professional code of conduct and education in institutes and Universities of Applied Sciences. Adventure and Outdoor Education uses a wide range of methods aiming to provide pedagogical experiences mainly through participation in different activities outdoors. The definition of ”adventure” is somewhat indefinite and developing.

Under Adventure and Outdoor Education plenty of therapeutical approaches and implications has been used through its years in Finland, but coordinated outdoor therapy network hasn’t opened its eyes until the year 2017. In June 2017 in Ulos-Ut-Out conference bunch of Outdoor Therapy enthusiasts found each other and started to seek out, where all the other same-minded are.

The first meeting of Finnish adventure therapy network was hold in February in 2018, where the first kick-off for the discussion, actions and brainstorming were done. This was a start for the exciting journey towards to explore the Adventure Therapy in Finland. We warmly welcome you to join with us to this excursion!

Markus Mattsson

I’m a psychologist, researcher, and a wilderness guide in the training. I’m currently working on several academic projects: finishing my PhD on the nature of psychological measurement and finishing earlier studies related to students’ engagement with their studies and their emotional experiences in higher education. In the future, I would like to carry out experience sampling -based studies on the effectiveness of adventure as a part of psychological treatment. My training to become a wilderness guide counterbalances the academic work: when living in a snow cave in the winter or paddling in the rapids in the summer, it is both easy and necessary to concentrate on the immediate surroundings, people and activities.

I’m currently working hard to create myself the ideal future workplace that combines working as a psychologist with being outdoors in the great Nordic wilderness. The natural environment provides different kinds of opportunities for healing, relaxation and personal growth for different people, ranging from the low threshold shinrin yoku (forest bathing) session to therapeutic expeditions to uninhabited places. Personally, I’m most interested in taking groups of clients out to awe-inspiring places in the wilderness and the related potential for meaningful discussions. I spend my free time on my own adventures, exploring the Arctic wilderness, climbing mountains or smaller rocks somewhere, kayaking, photographing, skiing – or sometimes just being – outdoors where I belong

Pekka Lyytinen

I’m Pekka Lyytinen, Finnish developmental psychologist, and family and couples therapist. I work as a rehabilitation coordinator in the Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Children and Young People under the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare in Paimio Sanatorium near Turku.  I also run my own company, muutosLoki Turku Ay, concentrating in supervising several special level teams in child psychiatry and family social services. My adventure-based work started in 1990 in Turku social services and has continued ever since. The Foundation supports the use of adventure as a method for holistic family rehabilitation. That’s one of the main reasons why I have continued my work there for 15 years now. Nowadays I’m interested in evaluating the usefulness of adventure and in exploring the phenomena that may be connected to the positive outcomes of adventure-based rehabilitation. At the moment I’m especially interested in combining video-reflective work and adventure in supporting the parental functions in families. The last two years I’ve been working to find connections to international adventure therapy networks and to find Finnish people with whom to establish one in Finland. For my pleasure, I love sailing, climbing, kayaking, hiking, photographing and gardening. Never a dull moment!

Miia Riihimäki

I’m an Occupational Therapist who has enjoyed her scenic route through different educational programs and found her home base and supportive tribe among Adventure, Wilderness and Outdoor Therapy. My educational background includes studies in Occupational Therapy, Sports Studies and I’m about to finish my master’s in Transcultural European Outdoor Studies where I’m writing my thesis about Nordic Outdoor Therapy.

At the moment I’m working as an Occupational Therapist in a private sector in a company called Toimintakeidas. My main task is to develop adventure, wilderness and outdoor interventions in the rehabilitation sector and as well to carry out therapy session in a open air with an experiential twist. 

At the beginning of June 2016, we established Finnish Adventure Therapy Network, in Finnish: seikkailuterapia. Our aim is to solidify AT as part of the therapeutic approaches in Finland. Through that, we can collect knowledge more widely and share the practice with other countries as well. I hope that by strong cooperation we can create a respected approach which is recognized widely in common healthcare systems in every Nordic Country.

Contact me anytime: miia.riihimaki@outlook.com 

Hei! Olen pohjakoulutukseltani toimintaterapeutti. Toimintaterapiaopintojen jälkeen olen suorittanut liikunnanohjaaja AMK-tutkinnon sekä viimeistelen maisterintutkintoani ohjelmassa Transcultural European Outdoor Studies. Kirjoitan tällä hetkellä maisterin lopputyötäni Pohjoismaisesta seikkailu- ja ulkoilmaterapiasta. Tällä hetkellä työskentelen toimintaterapeuttina yksityisellä sektorilla yrityksessä nimeltä Toimintakeidas Oy, jossa tavoitteenani on kehittää ulkoilma- ja seikkailuterapia interventioita kuntoutuksen käyttöön.

Kesäkuussa 2016 perustimme seikkailuterapia-yhteisön, jonka tavoitteena on kerätä yhteen seikkailuterapiasta kiinnostuneita ja sitä Suomessa toteuttavia henkilöitä. Pitkänajan haavena on saada seikkailuterapia tunnetuksi ja tunnistetuksi terapia- ja kuntoutusmuodoksi muiden muotojen rinnalle.