Working with At-Risk Youth through Intentional Practice in a Wilderness Therapy Context

Linda White

Session type: Regular forum session
Session duration: 90 minutes

Key words: Youth At Risk, Wilderness Therapy, Intentional Practice


This presentation aims to equip those
working in a wilderness therapy context with intentional practice frameworks
and tools. Focussing on outcomes prior, during and post the wilderness
experience are an essential part of intentional practice. A key component of
this is developing a growth mindset throughout the journey. Leadership that
role-models a growth mindset and acts intentionally through coaching,
validation, and affirmation empowers youth at risk to build key skills as
individuals as well as a team. Understanding the behaviour and responses of
youth at risk, where these come from and the needs they have, including
identification of trauma and trauma responses are key focusses of intentional
practice. Leaders are able to modify their practice to best suit individuals
and team in order to grow in participant’s short, medium and long term goals.
Operation Flinders has been engaged in Wilderness Therapy for twenty five
years; we use traditional methods now in a contemporary context through the
focus on intentional practice. Operation Flinders through  wilderness therapy walks, called ‘exercises’,
takes five hundred youth at risk per year on a rugged one hundred kilometre journey
through the Flinders Ranges for eight days. This includes activities such as
bush-camping, abseil, cultural and survival activities all focussed on
developing a learning outcome in the individual and team. Operation Flinders
program logic is based on clinical outcomes and endeavours to transform the
lives of youth at risk through the wilderness experience and further leadership
development. As an organisation Operation Flinders aims to have a growth
mindset as a framework for all programs, people and culture.

About the presenter/s

Linda is currently the General Manager of Programs, People and Culture for Operation Flinders a not for profit organization, specializing in Wilderness Therapy and Outback Interventions for at risk adolescents. Linda has worked with children, youth, young adults and families for twenty years. In this time she has been an Executive Director/manager industrial counselor/psychologist, school/agency social service manager, youth worker, corporate trainer and lecturer. She has specialized in the management of mental health and wellbeing, holistic care and Educational support. As a qualified trainer, Linda has written various resources, papers and manuals and provides training programs in Vocational Education and Higher Education through Social Science faculties across Australia.

Linda has been married to her husband Chris for 14 years and has three gorgeous girls, Mykah who is 8 years old, Eliana who is 7 years old and Neiva who is 3 years old. For recreation Linda loves fishing, the outdoors, reading and writing and ultimately has a heart to see communities, families and individuals grow in resilience, positive affect and connectedness.