Is Bush Adventure Therapy just glorified Outdoor Education?

Dr Anita Pryor1
1Adventure Works Australia, Hobart , Australia


This presentation points to the roots and influences of two fields of endeavour through the personal tales of people who have straddled both.

But are they two fields, or the same thing? Are Outdoor Education and Bush Adventure Therapy more similar than different? Is one just a medicalised version of the other? Is one just claiming to work with higher needs target groups, or claim special status?

Through the eyes of educators and practitioners, and a sharing of cross-disciplinary frameworks, practices and research, attendees will be invited to look at similarities, differences and synergies between these two approaches.

The way these two fields are the “same same but different” offers unique opportunities for learning and growth. This presentation will carve out time to explore ways that these two siblings can grow together and compliment each other’s efforts.

Anita Pryor trained in Outdoor Education at LaTrobe University, Bendigo (1990-1992) and worked as an outdoor educator and adventure guide in Victoria, NSW and Austria. Observing first hand the importance of early exposure to outdoor education, she conducted an Honours research project on the effects of Mittagundi Outdoor Education Centre (1995-1996) and began working with at-risk groups. Her time working at The Outdoor Experience, a bush-based drug treatment program for young people, led her from roles of outdoor educator to outdoor practitioner, manager, then researcher. During this time, Anita trained in mental health, solution focused therapy, narrative therapy and family therapy, and worked hard to form a BAT network of outdoor practitioners working therapeutically (1997-2004). Noticing the need for research evidence to support funding submissions, Anita undertook a PhD in Public Health (2005-2009). Since then, Anita has worked in policy, research and training. She currently supports BAT in Australia as co-director of Adventure Works Australia and co-leader of a newly-formed policy unit of the Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy.

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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