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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

Tanja de Jong

Social worker in a child psychiatric hospital. Self-employed; training groups, ind. walking sessions

Tanja de Jong is a social worker. Born, studied, and worked in the Netherlands. Raised on a farm; close to animals and nature. She worked with different groups; juvenile delinquents, families, and youth placed out of home. Since 1999 she has been living in Belgium. 
From the year 2002, she has been working at the University Psychiatric Center in Leuven. There her roots found soil again. Experimental and outdoor work slowly got more place and started as activities. The therapeutic effect became visible. 

In 2012 after a 2-year course in Adventure Education, she got the mandate to give AT a place in the youth psychiatric department. From 2021 until now has provided internal training to staff. Nature and experimental work with special youth and families. Tanja has been co-representative of Gathering for Adventure Therapy in Europe since 2022. And is one of the initiators of the GATE 2026 Belgium. Tanja is additionally self-employed. She does hiking sessions with young people and gives training to teams. How to incorporate nature and experiential work.

IMG_3862 - Tanja de Jong.JPEG

To grow a tree needs the forest. Working with metaphors.
The connection between your own tree and the forest

This workshop is about the integration of AT (Adventure Therapy) in 2 working models. The ARC model: Attachment, Regulation, and Competence (M Blaustein) and NVR: non-violent resistance (H Omer). 
 

The adolescents (and their parents/caregivers) admitted to our youth

psychiatric clinic that they have often lost confidence in themselves and each

other. Failure, loneliness, and hopelessness are central concepts. Language

is often a contaminated domain in this. Speaking equals conflict

and/or risk. Therefore AT can provide an answer or sometimes be a first

step.


Climbing is where we practice responsibility and trust (in ourselves and the others), hikes are where we feel the body and its strengths, making fire together and cooking with sharp knives. Where risk materials are used functionally and bind us together. Often we have to redefine relationships and perceptions. “Certain adults can be trusted, I can handle that well, people believe in me, I don't have to do it alone....”

Blaustein talks about attachment, regulation, and competence. 
Omer talks about connection (and resistance) and responsibility in which there is an eye for presence, (self)control, and network. In this workshop, we will connect the models through exercises.

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