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This sounds like a great career!

We agree! There are so many opportunities to combine your passion for the outdoors with your desire to facilitate healing and wholeness. Weather you are in mental health already, or are an outdoor professional looking to incorporate mental health into your work, there are a variety of paths that will get you to your goal. Take a look at our FAQ, and if you still have questions, schedule a consult! To make the most of our time as well as yours, in-depth professional consults over 20 minutes can be scheduled to give you more specific feedback, professional coaching and resources.

Frequently Asked Questions: 
  • Where did you go to graduate school?​​

Prescott College! My experience there was wonderful, however in retrospect, I give those considering a mental health degree other advice. Prescott College has an Adventure Therapy certificate program that can be done during a grad program or after as a post-masters certificate. Other programs that offer AT specific trainings include Naropa University in Boulder (Counseling degree), and the University of New Hampshire (Social work degree). Were I to do this over again, I would have enrolled in a public CACREP accredited counseling program and supplemented my learning with independent adventure therapy courses. CACREP accreditation means a standardized counselor education curriculum. Regardless of the school you attend, if it is CACREP accredited, the courses will be the same. So the private and pricy education I received at Prescott would be the same as an in-state tuition education at the University of Colorado. Consider the following when choosing a master's program: Tuition and assistance opportunities, if you will be part of a cohort or will be able to take classes as slowly or quickly as you need, what their opportunities are for practicum and internship (sometimes finding a site is very difficult, for example, Naropa's requirements have changed to exclude most sites), and what student groups are available for your support.

  • What experience do you need before grad school and what trainings are available after grad school?

No experience is needed before grad school. If you are already in a program, or have your masters degree in mental health, there are more and more opportunities popping up for post-graduate training. Some of my favorites are listed below under "resources." Which leads to the next question...

  • Do you need specific certification to be an Adventure Therapist?

Nope! There is, however, a fancy new certification offered by the Association for Experiential Education. The C-CAT, or Certified Clinical Adventure Therapist designation indicates you've received an adequate number of hours of training in the well-defined areas of competence. Most trainings as of 2021 have worked to align with those areas of competence, including the Clinical Rock Climbing Therapy Training here at Wild and Wonderful Life. Right now this certification isn't required for practice or employment. In the future, it may be a preferred certification, however at the moment it's usefulness is in continuing education alignment. 

  • What kind of insurance do I need?

That depends on the type of work you do. The best advice I can give is to speak directly to your insurance company. Here at WWL, we use single-event insurance for the majority of our programs. This is the most affordable option as we only host a few each year. This is in addition to our general and professional liability insurance. 

  • How does WWL manage risk?

Risk management is an essential element of any professional practice. In a master's counseling program, risk is managed through consent and liability waivers and good documentation. Adding in outdoor work means our therapist brains have to multi-task and incorporate what we call "guide mode." Guide mode means anticipating risk in the activity, environment, and client needs, as well as using the correct documentation to justify clinical use of whatever adventure or nature based exercises you us in your mental health practice. There are many courses and resources on risk management in the outdoor industry, as well as AT specifically. 

  • What does a typical session of Wilderness/Adventure Therapy look like?

It depends on the client or the day! We have a group that meets outdoors regularly, where "wanders" and intentionally designed interventions are the primary way we interact with the natural world. We also have an outdoor climbing program which meets at local crags. In an individual outdoor session, we choose a location based on weather and client needs. We meet at that location, and hike in to sit, or keep hiking on the trail. We talk and interact with what nature presents to us. Often sessions will include community or social engagement, where we meet at a game shop or climbing gym. We do a quick check in and review the intention for being there. We engage in the activity then debrief after our time is done. Other options look like "walk-and-talk" where you are on a path or trail for the whole session, or activity focused sessions like at the gym. Adventure and nature-based work is best done where you as a clinician shine. Are you a climber? Are you a biker? Are you an herbalist or naturalist? Create your practice in a way that let's you do your best work. 

  • I am pursuing or have my LPC/LCSW/LMFT, how do I incorporate nature and adventure into my practice?

My first suggestion is to choose a receptive client and just start by meeting outdoors. Journal about the experience and note any questions or concerns you have. Reach out to a local practicing therapist who you can consult with or get supervision from. Then on their recommendation and based on your research, start diving into professional development courses and experiential intensives for yourself. The foundation for this work is truly your own relationship with nature and adventure. The better your own practice, the better your intuition to incorporate this into your work will be. Read, study, talk, find community, and fall in love with your local space. 

  • How can I begin educating myself on Wilderness/Adventure Therapy now, even if I am not ready to begin providing it?

Read read read read read! There are so many great written works. Check out the bibliography below. Also, as I mentioned above, make sure your own relationship/practice in the natural world is solid. 

  • Do I need formal outdoor guide training?

It depends on the type of work you want to do. For local natural spots with quick access to help, First Aid will be adequate. For backpacking groups, consider getting your Wilderness First Responder cert. If you are a climber, consider getting your Single Pitch Instructor from the AMGA, or the Climbing Wall Instructor cert for indoor work. If you are going to be in natural spaces, consider a Forest Bathing certification. Like mental health and counseling, these trainings allow us to work within a scope of practice. 

  • I can’t find an internship opportunity that allows me to learn and practice Wilderness/Adventure Therapy. How do I step into this form of therapy in other ways?

There are many internship sites that will be receptive to incorporating this kind of work. First of all, just ask. If your site is more restrictive, consider incorporating more experiential elements into your work: Bring in games, problem solving challenges or art supplies. Create a nature basket for indoor work or bad weather days. Do what you can while looking for opportunities to attend adventure and nature based workshops and conferences to help build out your toolkit. 

  • Do you take Interns?

Yes! We love interns and practicum students. We take one masters level counseling student in the summer or fall each year. We are not an appropriate site for undergraduates. 

  • Do you collaborate?

Absolutely. We love connecting with other therapists, healers or outdoor professionals. We can offer staff, program development help, and provide therapy for programs that are traditionally not therapeutic.

Suggested Resources: 
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