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Carina Ribe Fernee

Carina is a senior researcher at the Department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health at Sørlandet hospital HE in Kristiansand, Norway, and affiliated with the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences at University of Agder.

She has been instrumental in the development of friluftsterapi for youth over the last decade, and is presently involved in several clinical research projects, including Where Wild Things Grow.

Carina is a board member of the Norwegian Outdoor Therapy Association and the Nordic Outdoor Therapy Network, and an honorary member of the Adventure Therapy International Committee. Perhaps some of you will recognise her as one of the conveners of the previous 9th International Adventure Therapy Conference - 3rd Gathering for Adventure Therapy in Europe (9IATC/3GATE) in Norway in June 2022.

Where wild things grow: Friluftsterapi as a preventative, health promoting, and sustainable method for children with neurodivergence in school, health care,
family and leisure settings in Southern Norway

Department of child and adolescent mental health, Soerlandet hospital HE, Kristiansand, Norway

Over the last few years, referrals to specialist mental health care related to neurodivergence has increased immensely in Norway, presently accounting for about 40 percent of all referrals to Sørlandet hospital. At the same time, public discourse, parents, teachers and surveys express concerns regarding the well-being of the young population of Norway today. Every child is different, where neurodiversity as a concept refers to the natural variety of mental functions, including particular strengths and challenges. Neurodivergence is a non-medical umbrella term, which includes identified conditions such as autism, dyslexia and ADHD, among others. Neurodivergent children indeed have certain superpowers; however, a higher incidence of mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression, as well as troubles in school, are generally reported amongst this population. We hypothesise that nature-based solutions can contribute to stress reduction, attention restoration, time-outs, enhanced self-efficacy, renewed motivation and connectedness for children and adolescents. Through the five-year (2023 - 2027) project "Where Wild Things Grow" Sørlandet hospital collaborates with schools, community-based health services and volunteer organisations in the local municipalities to establish a continuum of nature-based strategies to prevent mental ill-health and marginalisation of neurodivergent youngsters. Through developing and implementing modified versions of friluftsterapi as community-based interventions in school, health care, family and leisure settings, the overall aim is to promote inclusion, mental well-being and self-efficacy for these children. In this workshop, we present the foundation and the research design of this collaborative project, as well as sharing preliminary experiences from the pilot phase of the project.

Beyond the stories we tell ourselves:
Implicit theory and a proposed research agenda for outdoor therapies 

We often rely on our personal experiences and the stories we tell ourselves about how outdoor therapy works. We also draw on research and evidence from related fields to make claims for our own work. Outdoor therapies research, much like psychotherapy research in general, lags behind in process and theory-generating research. Less articulated aspects of outdoor therapy is the tacit knowledge that is largely sensed, embodied, and intuitive, hence therefore also much harder to grasp and describe. This presentation draws our attention to the insights that could emerge through intentional explorations and attempted articulation of implicit theories in outdoor therapies. Moving forward as a field, we propose a research agenda into the more implicit landscapes of our practice via three possible pathways, including: (a) initial surveys to map practitioners’ guiding theories, (b) context-sensitive case studies that embrace the complexity of outdoor therapies, and (c) in-depth inquiries into microprocesses of change, perhaps not yet articulated in the outdoor therapy literature. In this presentation, we will share an example of the first proposed pathway, having recently carried out an international survey including 75 outdoor therapy practitioners from a total of x nations. We applied a grounded theory methodology in our exploration, mapping and analysis of the guiding theories represented across this diverse sample. Finally, we propose implications for future practice and research.

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