Storytelling and Adventure Therapy

IMG_2128I spent much of last week attending the Fifth International Adventure Therapy Conference.  Not surprisingly, narratives and storytelling have found their way into this field.

Paul Stolz (Evolve at Typo Station) and Cathryn Carpenter (Deakin University), both in Australia, spoke about their use of narrative therapy approaches to working with young people “in the bush”.  I also attended a workshop that Paul Stolz gave which provided more detail on the subject and allowed us some hands-on experience with narrative practices.

I also attended a workshop specifically on storytelling, adventure therapy and outdoor education led by Tonia Gray (University of Wollongong) and Kaz Stuart (University of Cumbria).  Tonia and Kaz talked a little bit about how they use storytelling in their practices in Australia and England respectively and then we got to do some storytelling, and storylistening, of our own.  Tonia uses storytelling with her university-level outdoor education students and Kaz uses storytelling in adventure programming mainly with business groups.

It was one of those conferences with concurrent talks, and I was not able to attend every day anyway, so I only got a sample of what is going on in the world of adventure (sometimes called wilderness) therapy.  There were probably other references to stories made in other sessions that I missed.  For example, I missed Bonnie Dyck’s presentation on incorporating narrative approaches to working with families in Alberta, Canada.

I believe that stories are important to healing ourselves and our relationships with the more-than-human world.  Adventure and wilderness therapies provide people with novel experiences, narrative approaches and storytelling help people to integrate those experiences into new stories of who they are and what they can do.

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