Discover frameworks and techniques to design and facilitate therapeutic outdoor experiences in a variety of environments and professional contexts.
The course is based on extensive research and over 20 years of hands-on professional experience. It delivers a pragmatic and accesible approach to delivering therapeutic outdoor programmes.
Delivered over one week (six days and seven nights) in a residential format, this course provides stand-alone learning. It can also be combined with the Introduction to Ecotherapy Practice ONLINE course, which adds a strong foundation for this more experiential and practical residential. Combining the two courses provides a comprehensive professional development process.
This course extends and deepens the outcomes of the online introductory course through hands-on experiential content.
By the end of the course you will have:
- an overview of the various different ecotherapy approaches currently being offered internationally;
- made connections between personal, social and ecological issues and their roles in creating pathologies;
- understood some of the foundational theories underpinning this type of work
- developed your own therapeutic contract for working outdoors;
- found strategies and techniques for self-care and supervision;
- reviewed examples and case studies of therapeutic outdoor programmes;
- explored issues around the confluence of ecotherapy practice, culture and indigene;
- developed your understanding of ethics and professionalism in outdoor therapeutic practice;
- gained an overview of the issues surrounding liability and insurance;
- found where to access resources and networks;
- worked out your next steps towards professional practice, or towards further enriching your existing practice;
- experienced a selection of therapeutic outdoor practices for yourself;
- had opportunities to design and facilitate therapeutic processes with peers;
- practiced appropriate facilitation styles and techniques with peers;
- selected conducive outdoor spaces to work in;
- worked with complex relationship dynamics and how they are influenced by being outdoors;
- created and worked with ‘safe space’ and boundaries outdoors;
- designed your own programme;
- completed an outdoor risk assessment and emergency plan.
For most people who work and play outside, it is obvious that time spent outdoors is therapeutic. Despite this, the idea that it might be offered as part of formal healthcare has struggled to take hold.
In the last five years however, the engagement of mainstream healthcare with outdoor approaches to therapy have exploded. In the UK for example, several programmes have been piloted to provide outdoor experiences by prescription. These have been extremely successful, outperforming conventional therapies and pharmacology in both health outcomes and cost efficiency.
But providing this kind of service is not easy. This is due mainly to the lack of people who can supply safe, professional and effective therapeutic outdoor experiences.
The course has been developed through over 20 years of international research, development, post-graduate teaching and hands-on professional practice. This includes the design and delivery of a government funded programme in the UK which offered therapeutic outdoor experiences by prescription.
The excellent health economics and proven efficacy of outdoor approaches to improving mental and physical health means that – without doubt – demand for practitioners will continue to increase. Given the scale of mental health and wellbeing issues globally, there is going to be an increased demand for professionals who can provide safe and effective outdoor therapies.
This course aims to help provide those professionals.
This course starts from the position that you cannot have healthy people on a sick planet. Ensuring our own health and that of the planet’s ecosystems are the same task. This reciprocal perspective is different to many others currently being offered, which tend to focus only on the benefits to humans of spending time outdoors.
Working with reciprocity, the course explores how outdoor experiences of nature can awaken us to our ecological reality. This is intrinsically healing because it reconnects us to a stable and clear sense of self, rooted in our own ecology. It also compels us to want to live sustainably, because we realise we are a fundamentally interdependent part of nature. Together these two realisations complete the therapeutic loop.
Read “How to become an ecotherapist” …
Day before: Arrive by 16.00h. Dinner at 19.00h. Intro & orientation.
DAY 1: Introductory practices & group work
DAY 2: Personal process – solo practice
DAY 3: Personal process – narrative and reflective practices
DAY 4: Design
DAY 5: Facilitation
DAY 6: Professional practice
Day after: Breakfast 0800h. Clean-up and depart by 10.30h
The course includes 50 hours of total contact time on a maximum 1:10 ratio including,
- six days of experiential learning;
- seven nights of catered accommodation;
- access to PDF downloads of all articles, papers and graphics referenced during the course;
- a comprehensive reading list and;
- CPD certification.
You do not need to be a psychotherapist or counsellor to participate in this course. It is for anyone interested in working with the therapeutic potential of outdoor experiences – from urban parks to designated wilderness.
This includes healthcare practitioners, outdoor leaders, social workers, youth workers, rangers, conservationists and educators – as well as those interested in commissioning, or referring into, therapeutic outdoor programmes.
It is recommended that you bring around five years experience in some related form of professional practice – working with groups or one-to-one, indoors or out. However, each application is considered individually, so please do ask if you’re not sure.
- this course is for those seeking to work therapeutically outdoors and is not intended as a personal therapeutic intervention.
- it is likely that a basic level of outdoor leadership training, including outdoor first aid, will be required to work ethically and professionally outdoors, depending on the type of environment you want to work in. Please be aware that this course does not qualify you as a professional outdoor leader, which usually requires specialist training and assessment in your home nation.
The course is offered in New Zealand, venue to be confirmed.
The course starts at 16.00 on the evening prior. Please arrive by 15.00 so that you have time to settle in before starting on time. Dinner at 19.00
The course finishes on the evening of day six before we have dinner together. Departure before 10.00am the next morning.
Accommodation varies according to the location. Generally, it consists of twin-share rooms with shared facilities.
Our cook prepares delicious, simple food for us throughout the week. There is access to hot drinks and snacks 24/7. It is part of the ethos of the course that everyone helps out occasionally in the kitchen, under cook’s direction.
What to bring
We will be outside everyday whatever the weather!
You will need to bring the right clothing and equipment to be comfortable outdoors. It is very important that you come prepared.
A personal clothing and equipment list will be sent once your application has been processed.
This course is not a test of endurance! We are committed to creating an experience accessible to a wide range of abilities. We lead the programme to meet the needs of everyone in the group, while also recognising than a little bit of a challenge can be a helpful thing. Everything we do is offered as an invitation. You will never have to do anything you don’t want to.
As a guideline, you will need to be able to carry a day pack containing your personal equipment (waterproofs, spare clothes, lunch, flask, etc.) for periods of up to four hours at a time, in a natural environment, often without formed tracks.
If you are unsure about your ability to take part for any reason, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your needs.
Safety & Insurance
David Key has over 20 years experience delivering outdoor programmes in a wide variety of environments. He holds National Governing Body outdoor leadership qualifications in both the United Kingdom (MTUK & BCU) and New Zealand (NZOIA).
Risk assessments are completed for every location. These are reviewed each time a course is delivered.
You are advised to take out your own insurance for travel and belongings.
Includes: Up to 50 hours of contact time on a maximum 1:10 ratio; catered accommodation; group equipment and; a CPD certificate.
Excludes: Travel two and from the venue; personal outdoor equipment and clothing and; travel insurance.
|Dates:||This course runs on demand. Please register your interest below.|
|Location:||Aotearoa New Zealand.|
|Duration:||Six days / seven nights.|
|Contact time:||50 hours|
|Approx. reading time:||12 hours|
|Certification:||A Continuing Professional Development Certificate for 62 hours can be issue upon course completion.|