The Next Frontier: Wilderness Therapy and the Treatment of Complex Trauma

Advances in neuroscience and epigenetics within the field of trauma research and practice have progressed rapidly over the last two decades. Yet, a therapeutic practice with its roots in the ancient connection with outdoor environment still offers simple living as fundamental to healing. This presentation explores recent gains in knowledge, briefly differentiates trauma from complex trauma, compares these therapeutic processes with existing practice, and suggests a synthesis of old and new. The presenters argue wilderness therapy is equipped to be efficacious, yet to do so the field must be prepared to explore the next frontier in the healing of human brains, bodies, and minds. The changes to therapeutic practice required may be profound but are not necessarily as complicated as complex trauma.

Graham Pringle (PhD Candidate, MA (Outdoor Education), DipSocSci (Psych), CIV Adventure Based Youth Work) is the Program Director of Youth Flourish Outdoors. He conducts the research behind models for the treatment of complex trauma and wilderness therapy. Graham frequently trains adults and presents at conferences domestically and internationally.

Will Dobud PhD is a social work lecturer with Charles Sturt University and founder of True North Expeditions, Inc., an adventure therapy organisation based in South Australia. Will’s research focuses on improving outdoor therapy outcomes and client experiences. Will is the co-editor of Outdoor Therapies: An Introduction to Practice, Possibillities, and Critical Perspectives.

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