Young people in the bush

What is Bush Adventure Therapy?

Human Nature was founded in 2015 with the vision to create a completely unique model of care that combines the best aspects of outdoor education, experiential and embodied learning, and therapeutic practice. Human Nature’s unique suite of nature-connected programs are based on decades of lived experience.

Bush Adventure Therapy is a well-respected methodology that is increasingly widely used internationally, particularly in the US. There it has a longstanding therapeutic reputation having been used since the 1940’s. It harnesses the healing power of Nature and demonstrates how human beings benefit from this essential relationship. In a world where time outdoors is rapidly decreasing, this is of great importance to the health and well-being of young people.

History of the name

There have been many names for this kind of therapy including: adventure therapy; wilderness therapy; outdoor therapy; and outdoor adventure interventions. We are a member of the Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy in Australia who have been instrumental in the work to create a culturally appropriate name for the work we do. 

They say, “The new terminology recognises that ‘wilderness’ may be seen as a colonizing term (implying ‘people-free’) that ignores the Indigenous presence in the land. The new title of Bush Adventure Therapy emphasizes relationships with the natural environment in our work and practice.

The word ‘bush’ is relevant in the South Pacific region because it encompasses the whole range of natural environments, from local urban parks to vast remote natural environments (including coastal areas, mountains, rivers and deserts).

Our understanding of the term ‘adventure’ includes activities in mind, body and spirit, for people of all ages and stages. Our understanding of the term ‘therapy’ is inclusive of general therapeutic outcomes and the specific intent of therapy.”

Our flagship program

Our Recre8 program takes disengaged young people on a three-month therapeutic process using the innovative treatment methodology of Bush Adventure Therapy. It is centered around a 10-day wilderness expedition and provides more than 200 hours of support. Our Recre8 program is designed and run by an experienced team of psychologists, counselors, mentors, volunteers and outdoor leadership professionals.

Benefits of Bush Adventure Therapy

Many of the young people we work with have a deep mistrust of adult figures and are battling the stigma around mental illness and therapy. So the idea of sitting in a room with an adult  that is unknown to them and talking about their trauma and their feelings is unrealistic. We use bush adventure therapy as a tool to help us engage with young people. They are much more likely to come for a bush walk, bike ride, surf, swim or kayak than participate in conventional therapy. We pick them up from school, work or their homes and provide all the equipment needed. This unique model really takes the pressure off them to talk and instead puts the focus on the activity which allows us to create a deeper bond with them long-term. It also means they learn new skills and are physically active.

Another benefit is the exposure and connection to nature that we help young people develop which will serve them long into adulthood. Studies have shown that exposure to nature can improve attention span, creativity, mental health, mood and physical wellbeing. There are also countless profound metaphors found in nature that can be used in therapy. 

One young person who has participated in our programs had this to say about our unique model of care.

My mental health has improved so much over the past 6 months since being with Human Nature. They’ve helped to pick me up and get me outside, going to places like this that makes it easier for me to talk through my worries. And today I threw a few more worries to the river and I feel lighter for it.

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