Gunnar Oland Åsen

Gunnar Oland Åsen

Gunnar Oland Åsen

Abstract

Gunnar is a leader in Adventure Therapy in Norway and is devoted to this field of work. He was one of the key organisers of the 9IATC earlier this year. He believes we should develop more research and data to describe different ways nature- based interventions can prevent mental health trouble among vulnerable children and adults. He is convinced (but would like more scientific evidence to support this theory) that vulnerable children and adults can build a higher level of resistance by getting closer to their ecological biotope. He has found that the destructive circles of “psychological breakdown”  (in many aspects) often are too difficult to repair when children and adults are referred to our hospital services in Norway. Gunnar thinks conventional therapy needs to join with the constructive forces in nature – and the health care system needs to find ways to introduce these forces to parents, teachers and community planners.

Gunnar believes the first step in reforming healthcare (to involve nature more), is to talk and listen to children, parents, clinicians, teachers and community planners about their resistance against and fears of getting in touch with the forces of nature. Come and find out more about Adventure Therapy in Norway, Gunnar’s research and his ambitious plans for the future of Norwegian Adventure Therapy, all of which are inspiring for our own work here in Australia.

About the presenter/s

I grew up close to the Norwegian forest, and from 3-4 years of age I felt safe in the forest landscape – all seasons included. The experiences of feeling safe and well outdoors came back to me as an adult, and I expanded my safety seeking to the sea when I served in the Navy for a while. After studying psychology and being authorized as a specialist in child and adolescent psychology I started to explore the mountain as a safe place. This process is still going on – and I am still not sure if the Norwegian mountain landscape is safe enough for me?

My professional career is almost over – I am 62 years – and I have been a leader in the hospital system for the last 15 years. In this period I have had the great pleasure of joining a team of collegues (Leiv, Carina, Vibeke, Nevin) that has developed some ways of using the nature in therapy in the public hospital in our region. Inspired by Australians and Canadians (mainly) we have done some scientific projects in the field, and we have published some of these experiences over the last 5 – 7 years. My role has been more administrative, but I have joined the clinical teams whenever possible.