We’re continually developing our answers to the questions we’re most commonly asked about adventure therapy, and Adventure Therapy Aotearoa. Have a read below, and feel free to be in touch with any other burning questions.

What is Adventure Therapy Aotearoa?

Adventure Therapy Aotearoa is a membership association for practitioners of adventure therapy in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Who’s behind it?

You can read all about our current leadership team here.

Who’s it for?

Anyone who identifies as an adventure therapist or who has a broad interest in this field of practice. We’re a broad church and a friendly bunch, so if you’re keen to be involved we’d love to have you join us!

Why should I join?

To support the development of this field of practice in Aotearoa, and to connect with other like-minded people. You can read more about Membership here

What is adventure therapy?

Well, that’s the million dollar question!

Internationally there isn’t really one particular definition of adventure therapy, and there isn’t really one particular way of becoming an adventure therapist. This means that the term is interpreted quite differently in different places around the world” – Helen Jeffery, our Treasurer and Senior Lectuer at Otago Polytechnic

Elements of what is considered to be adventure therapy practice that are somewhat consistent:

  1. Therapeutic Intent // Haumanu
  2. Nature and the outdoors // Whenua
  3. People/relationships // Tangata
  4. Adventure and challenge // Wero

Some examples of international definitions of Adventure Therapy: 

1) Australia:
Bush Adventure Therapy is a diverse field of practice combining adventure and outdoor environments with the intention to achieve therapeutic outcomes for those involved” – Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy

2) USA:
“The prescriptive use of adventure experiences provided by mental health professionals, often conducted in natural settings that kinaesthetically engage clients on cognitive, affective and behavioural levels” – Gass et al., 2012

And there is a lot of useful background information on the adventure therapy Wikipedia page.

Here in Aotearoa New Zealand it’s a pretty young field, so we’re in the process of finding the words that feel right for our context and culture. Adventure Therapy Aotearoa is playing a key role in this process, as are our Members. We’d love to hear what you think.

Am I an adventure therapist?

If your work broadly includes the elements above then yes, you could well be! Our approach is that whilst programmes themselves can shift and change, if you’re using ‘adventure setting’ as part of your toolkit, whilst working with therapeutic intent you’re definitely in the domain of an adventure therapist.

How do I become an adventure therapist, or pursue this line of work?

Most people who arrive at adventure therapy are either outdoors professionals with an interest in the therapeutic side of their work, or therapists who have a passion for the outdoors. Whilst you don’t need to specialise in adventure setting and therapeutic intention, it is good to have knowledge in both areas. It is also important to work alongside someone who does have expertise and strength in the area that you don’t.

Supporting our Members to develop safe, ethical and quality practice is a key objective for Adventure Therapy Aotearoa and we will be sharing more in the coming months. In the meantime, consider exploring opportunities to develop your skills via some of the organisations below:

Skills Active