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Zane Rudzīte

Student of University of Islands and Highlands (studying for PGcert Outdoor and Adventure Therapeutic practice, member of Adventure Therapy Latvia, running individual/small group adventure therapy programmes by own company

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As I loved nature from a very early age, I set out to study environmental science. However, soon I realized the actual work is more in the library as opposed to being out in nature. Having a dear spot for animals as well and working with horses as a groom while studying,

I continued my path and became an equine massage therapist – this way I could both work hands-on and also embrace another appetence of mine – helping out. After about a decade in the profession, while also teaching equine massage to horse owners, I began to see the positive mental and spiritual impact on people whilst they were making the connection with horses. Later on, having moved to a rural area myself with my horses and coming into contact with adventure therapy, I gradually started developing my programs, which included not just the horses, but all the nature around.

The role of adventure therapy in bridging together indigineous wisdom
and better mental health

From talking circles to canoes – there are almost countless examples of practices and ancient skills that are a part of the modern world as well as utilized in Adventure Therapy. Indigenous traditions, in the therapeutic sense, extend beyond that – for purposes of wellbeing, also plant medicine, totemism and other shamanic traditions and rituals are practiced. We have to be careful with how we use those practices – AT programs with indigenous elements should be respectful and avoid cultural appropriation at all costs, as, among other issues, without a proper context therapeutic effect would be lost (Skidmore, 2017). In contrast – using ancient methods in the form of healthy cultural exchange could benefit both modern society and indigenous people. The worldview and the values of the dominant western culture in many ways are nowhere near alignment with the age-old thinking (Drew, 2022), which in the modern day proves to be a great disadvantage to western society itself. The author believes much of the old ways have been wrongfully neglected and therefore caused a serious decline in mental health nowadays (Abramov, Peixoto, 2022). It is also clear that humankind will not ever return to a hunter-gatherer society, however, it might benefit greatly, if we learned to implement old wisdom in our current century. This way not only the mental health of modern society would be positively affected, but also the voice of indigenous cultures recognized and respected, creating an overall more inclusive dynamic between different communities (which, again, leads to better mental health!).

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