WillDobud – Debate: Bush Adventure Therapy Is Just Talk Therapy Outdoors, Right?

Bush Adventure Therapy Is Just Talk Therapy Outdoors, Right?

Will Dobud, Graham Pringle

Session duration: 60 minutes

Key words: bush adventure therapy, evidence-based practice, trauma-informed care, psychotherapy


Trauma-informed practitioners and scholars, along with guidelines for best practice, have argued that ‘talking’ is not necessarily the most important stage of working with complex trauma. This has led to increasing popularity of therapies that include active bodily and rhythmic engagement, such as dance, music, and yes, adventure-based therapies. That said, has this truly moved the needle on our effectiveness, or is this just more of the same, leading to no difference in outcomes for those we work with. After all, in the talk therapies, no differences in outcomes when comparing one or more therapies directly is par for the course. In fact, it is our second most replicated finding; other than, therapy works.

With this workshop, you will take part in a brief debate on whether bush adventure therapy with a trauma-informed lens really is just more of the same, or whether there is something truly unique about how practitioners approach this work. Watch good friends Will Dobud and Graham Pringle, who agree on just about everything except this one particular issue, hash it out on centre stage. After the quick debate, attendees will be encouraged to engage in group discussion and ask questions to the debaters to drive the wedge between them further.

About the presenter/s

Will W. Dobud, PhD, MSW, is a social work lecturer at Charles Sturt University and has been involved in outdoor therapy in the United States, Australia, and Norway. He is also the co-editor of Outdoor Therapies: An Introduction to Practices, Possibilities, and Critical Perspectives (2020). Will’s research is focused on participant experiences in care and improving outcomes in outdoor therapies.

Graham has experience in Residential and Foster Care, Outdoor Education, Adventure Based Youth Work and Adult Training. He leads the Youth Flourish Outdoors team. Graham has spent over 15 years pursuing adventure as therapy for adolescents and is now researching the field through a Doctor in Philosophy degree at Griffith University. He enjoys training adults in adventure therapy and designing programs that stop young people from acquiring mental health diagnoses. Having worked outdoors with young people since 1985 he has also studied widely and holds a Masters of Arts (Outdoor Education), Graduate Diploma in Social Science (Psychology) and a Graduate Diploma in Education. Graham has written a book for youth workers who wish to take young people on therapeutic adventure programs. He and his wife Janelle (also a carer, youth worker and assistant in nursing) live in SE Qld and enjoy using their camper trailer on trips away with their dachshunds. His favourite outdoor pursuits are bushwalking, canoeing and photography.