Professional Development


A big part of our mission is to help our members to develop their skills and knowledge of adventure therapy. Our flagship event is our annual conference – an amazing opportunity to get to know others working in this space and learn from each other. Sign up for our newsletter to be first to hear more about the next one!

The 2022 Adventure Therapy Aotearoa conference planned for May in Ōtautahi is postponed until 2023 due to Covid-19. This year we will be offering a unique online training experience. This will take place during term 2 (May 4th – July 5th). Please see the conference page for updates. 


We are in the process of creating a network of adventure therapy supervisors for our members here in Aotearoa. If you’d like to join our list of supervisors complete a short form here. If you’d like to connect with a supervisor or simply know more, please sign in the members only area for a list of supervisors.

Online workshops

In 2020, we had to cancel our annual hui due to Covid-19, and instead ran a series of online events – outlined below. Members have free access to recordings of these workshops – contact us for more information. And if you’re not yet a member, join here.

I met my wife in a cave, and other stories of becoming from an Adventurous Therapist
Simon Goodwin – School Guidance Counsellor, Waimea College

My practice is based in a small room in a corner of Waimea College in Richmond. When appropriate and whenever possible, I leave my room, get my dogs out of the truck, and walk with my clients along the school fence and beyond to a small creek reserve. The conversation is almost always better on this walk, aimless one way and intentional on the return. I hope to bring my current and hoped-for practice to light through sharing how I came to do what I do now. The outdoors has always been therapeutic for me, and therapy has always been an aim of my work, yet it is not long that I have been able to think of myself as an intentional Adventure Therapist. I would like to share some stories of my journey for those who may just be beginning theirs, those who are realising they have been on this one for a while, and those who want to reminisce about their own development. I hope to share ideas around how intentionality can enhance any practice, and how nature and adventure and therapeutic practices are, for some of us, inextricably bound.

Understanding and managing risk from an Adventure Therapy perspective
Mark Johnston – Safety and Training Manager, Adventure Specialties Trust

If risk gets rewards what are the risks? We will consider the Adventure Activities Regulations – what is likely to be covered by them and what is not. We’ll also explore templates to help write safety management systems for activities that you run whether covered by the regulations or not. We’ll go on to explore the ‘people’ specific risk that a therapeutic programme might need to consider alongside the activity risks – breaking into some smaller groups and using our combined knowledge and experience to consider some appropriate management strategies. This topic can seem a bit daunting and perhaps dry, but with the knowledge you already have plus some common sense, I hope that you will leave the session thinking “we can do this”. Because the risks are definitely worth the rewards.

Introduction to understanding and supporting people experiencing mental health challenges
Amy Horn – Adventure Therapy Manager, Adventure Specialties Trust

This workshop introduces some of the mental health challenges you might come across and some of the skills and strategies you could use to support the person in the moment.  We will focus on a few different scenarios of low mood, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and stress.  The goal of the session is that people leave feeling more prepared to manage and support people with mental health challenges in their personal or professional lives.

This workshop is designed for those who are coming to the field of Adventure Therapy more from the outdoor leadership side of things.  Everyone is welcome, but people with knowledge in the area of distress and mental health challenges will likely already know the content. 

Working from the Ground Up: The Value of Nature from an Occupational Therapy Lens
Elana Cohen, Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapy (OT) is a very broad practice area. It is considered the bridge between the medical side of healthcare and the social-emotional side of being human. As a field that has just passed its 100th birthday, OT can look vastly different depending on the respective healthcare systems in an area, practice setting, and population served. Participants in this presentation will engage with the foundational tenets of OT as they apply to the richness of nature and experiential learning in the outdoors. Because of the emphasis on common threads that span disciplines, practice areas, and population, participants will find relevance and actionable takeaways from this presentation regardless of profession. Some of these common threads include the perception of disability, compensatory strategies for motor or cognitive challenges, and the impact of sensory processing concerns. Participants will be equipped with a unique lens through which to innovate activities using nature in their work.

Data: Get hungry, get smart
Graham Pringle and Jaimee Galloway, Youth Flourish Outdoors

After four years of operation and keeping mistakes small, Youth Flourish Outdoors is scaling up and extending. The demand is too great to do otherwise. Our purpose is health promotion and business 2 business, so we exist to help – not to keep secrets. We will share what we have learned to collect and use in terms of data. We will cover intake data, periodic data, session feedback data, and reporting. We collect a lot of data points and data types and have done a lot of work to make the collection simple and painless. We can show each type of data and de-identified examples. It will tell a story.  It is free/open source and youth friendly. The data seeks to position us in the health field, help the health of our young people, to inform and activate their support systems, and to improve our practice. Who doesn’t want all that?

What is Adventure Therapy?
Helen Jeffrey, Kelly O’Hagan, Carolyn Lotawa and Claire Wyatt

Co-facilitated by the Adventure Therapy Aotearoa Leadership Group, this workshop looks at adventure therapy basics:
– Definitions of Adventure Therapy
– Models of practice for adventure therapy
– Location yourself in the spectrum of practice
– Identifying practitioners skills and training
– Considering risk from an adventure and therapeutic perspective
– Conversations about design and delivery of adventure based interventions

Future workshops

We currently have no plans to host additional online workshops, but if you’d like to host one for our members, get in touch! There are also some great training webinars available through The (American) Association for Experiential Education. Usually these are available to members only, but currently available free or for a donation!