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Adventure Therapy expert to speak in Dunedin

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Professor Michael Gass, an international expert in the field of adventure therapy, will deliver a public lecture at Otago Polytechnic’s Sargood Centre on Wednesday 21 May (5.30-7pm).

Prof Gass will speak about adventure therapy, its development and elements of its use in clinical practice. Prof Gass is a keynote speaker at the Adventure Therapy Aotearoa Forum 2108 (ATAF 2108), hosted by Whenua Iti Outdoors near Motueka. The forum has attracted practitioners from New Zealand and overseas.

"Mike is known worldwide as an authority on this subject. He is going to focus on what the Americans have learned over 40 years of Adventure Therapy so we can learn from this, too," says Amy Horn, of Adventure Specialities Trust, one of the members of the organising committee. "It will be a powerful springboard for development of Adventure Therapy in New Zealand".

Adventure Therapy has long been recognised as a well-researched and effective strategy that can help people deal with a variety of mental health and behavioural issues. Adventure Therapy involves taking people into the outdoors and engaging them in counselling and other therapies to not only deal with issues causing for example anxiety, but also building up strategies to cope with these issues once you’re back in the ‘real world’. It has been practiced in New Zealand and overseas for many years and is becoming a recognised and respected option in the toolbox of health and social service professionals.

Overseas, including in the UK and the US, Adventure Therapy has a long history of research and development governed by professional bodies. Recognising the need for a more strategic approach, the first New Zealand forum was held in Christchurch in 2017, supported by Adventure Specialities Trust and Waipuna St Johns of God. An exciting development for 2108 will be the launch at the forum of a professional association to guide the development of Adventure Therapy in New Zealand providing direction and momentum for the future.

"We are privileged to host the Adventure Therapy Aotearoa Forum 2018", said Mark Bruce-Miller, General Manager at Whenua Iti Outdoors. "The AT movement in New Zealand may be in its infancy but there is no doubting the huge potential for effective intervention to support our youth".

The forum is designed to attract new people into the field as well as develop the skills of established practitioners. Workshops are wide ranging and include practical opportunities such as waka and high ropes as well as theoretical sessions ranging from developing our cultural practices to family based therapies. Delegates can take their studies further following the forum. For example, Otago Polytechnic (one of the programme sponsors) will offer a postgraduate qualification in Adventure Therapy from semester one next year. To learn more about ATAF 2018, visit Facebook and

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