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Outdoor education and bush adventure therapy: A socio-ecological approach to health and wellbeing

Abstract

Together, outdoor education and bush adventure therapy can be seen to constitute a population-wide health intervention strategy. Whether in educational or therapeutic settings, the intentional use of contact with nature, small groups, and adventure provides a unique approach in the promotion of health and wellbeing for the general population, and for individuals with identified health vulnerabilities. This paper explicitly emphasises human and social health, however, an integral assumption is that a healthy and sustainable environment is dependent on healthy human relationships with nature. We invite outdoor educators and bush adventure therapy practitioners to examine the proposition that healthy interactions with nature can create a unique stream of socio-ecological interventions. A spectrum of outdoor adventure programs is provided, allowing outdoor educators and bush adventure therapy practitioners to locate their work according to program context and aims, and participant aims and needs.

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Correspondence to Anita Pryor.

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Anita Pryor currently co-ordinates the development and delivery of community adventure programs statewide, within The Outdoor Experience (TOE). TOE is an alternative intervention program for young people experiencing difficulties associated with drugs/alcohol (Jesuit Social Services)

Cathryn Carpenter currently co-ordinates and teaches within the Masters of Education — Experiential Learning and Development degree which includes a study sequence in wilderness adventure programs. She also coordinates the Outdoor Education subjects within the Bachelor of Education P-12 degree at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.

Dr Mardie Townsend is a senior lecturer within Deakin University’s School of Health and Social Development, specializing in Public Health. She currently coordinates the Health Sciences and Arts/Health Sciences undergraduate degrees, and leads Deakin University’s NiCHE research team, examining the human health benefits of contact with nature and natural environments

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Pryor, A., Carpenter, C. & Townsend, M. Outdoor education and bush adventure therapy: A socio-ecological approach to health and wellbeing. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education 9, 3–13 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03400807

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03400807