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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

Dr. Kaye Richards

Liverpool John Moores University

Dr Kaye Richards is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Chartered Psychologist at Liverpool John Moores University, where she also teaches on a MSc in Positive Psychology and Well-being. Her specialist areas are outdoor and adventure therapies, the psychology of outdoor adventure and nature-based experiences, outdoor education, counselling and psychotherapy, and mental health and well-being. She has spent many years delivering a range of outdoor therapy-based developments, teaching Outdoor Education and Outdoor Therapy in Higher Education and developing national research initiatives. She has published widely across interdisciplinary areas of outdoor education, outdoor therapy and counselling and psychotherapy. More recent publications include a national statement of good practice for outdoor therapy practices in the UK, a research informed sustainability guide on nature for mental health, ‘The Outjoyment Report’, and a proposed International Position Statement on Adventure Therapy that reflects many years involved in the Adventure Therapy International community.

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Developing Horizons:
Fostering Sustainable Practices in Outdoor Therapy and Nature for Mental Health

The emergence of outdoor and adventure therapies has seen a rapid expansion in recent years. For example, in the UK the movement of taking therapy practices outdoors is now a more accepted phenomenon in mainstream psychotherapeutic approaches, along with national government health initiatives such as ‘green prescribing’ that are embracing the mental health benefits of accessing natural environments (Haywood, 2023). Given this backdrop there are both opportunities and challenges for the development of sustainable practices that maintain long term benefit and access to quality outdoor and adventure therapy provisions. Drawing upon a recently published research informed practice guide for the development of nature for mental health (Richards, Fullam & Anderson, 2023), along with the underpinning Outdoor Mental Health Interventions Model (Richards, Hardie & Anderson, 2020) this paper will consider the relevance of these for informing emerging research directions and practice agendas. The paper will critically consider how we position emerging landscapes of outdoor mental health initiatives and pose questions in the ongoing development of ethical and effective outdoor therapy practices both in the UK and beyond. 

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