Through The Eyes of the Participant: What Can We Learn From Adventure Therapy Experiences

Will Dobud

Session type: Regular forum session

Key words: adventure therapy, international, adolescents, young people, narrative inquiry, experience, qualitative research


This interactive workshop will explore a three-year doctoral research project dedicated to exploring participant experiences in adventure therapy. This presentation will begin a brief exploration of the state of our adventure therapy literature, the gap being a detailed inquiry into what it is like to stand in the shoes of the adventure therapy participant. To address this, past adventure therapy participants and practitioners from around the world were interviewed and participant observation occurred on programs in Norway, the United States, and Australia. This workshop will present the variety of adventure therapy practice, through the eyes of those with the most at stake, the participants.
The study unpacked what the rich and essential therapeutic alliance looks like in adventure therapy settings and will present what helped or hindered progress during the course of programming. Discussions will centre around life before and after adventure therapy for our participants, the role of the outdoors as a therapeutic factor, and discussion about where the field is headed.

Those who attend this workshop will leave with an understanding of why a “contextual model”, based on the best available outcome research from the wider field of psychotherapy, is important for adventure therapy. Small groups will engage in critical discussions about real situations that occurred for participants and practitioners in the field. Potential blind spots have emerged in our practice and we will shed light and discuss how the field can move forward.

About the presenter/s

Will Dobud MSW is the program director of True North Expeditions, Inc., an Australian adventure therapy program for adolescents. Will is also a casual academic in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Charles Sturt University. In 2015, he was awarded the Australian Postgraduate Award for research promise. Will’s research is focused on participant experience and uncovering what works in adventure therapy.