April 2013 Archives

oops retrying the link to WT research site

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Hi Everyone. I'm sorry my link didn't transfer. I was using a different server hopefully it will post this time! If it doesn't the website I'm referring to is obhrc.org. A source for research and researchers in Wilderness Therapy, including some we've read- Christine Norton, and Joanna Bettman. There's also a database of articles.

Angela Kariniemi ecotherapy

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I thought this was interesting and neat to see this program is available. Hopefully we will see more implementation and "green medicine" being prescribed as there is more awareness through programs like this. John F. Kennedy University

A Wilderness Therapy Symposium will take place in Boulder, Colorado September 5th-7th, 2013. Like any health-related gathering there will be a keynote speaker, presentations, workshops and opportunities for industry networking. But unlike other health-related gatherings, this one will have many off-site workshops in the wilderness where practices and ideas are actually tested in person.

One of the things I was surprised to learn is that continuing education credit is available for many different health professionals who choose to attend the symposium including psychologists, counselors, social workers, and nurses from numerous states across the U.S.

This looks like an amazing opportunity for health professionals to gain more first hand experience in Wilderness Therapy practices!



On hearing Richard Louv

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My community has an annual event called Fox Cities Reads. The public libraries of the Fox Cities (Wisconsin) and the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley select an author and title(s) to build a larger sense of community and to promote literacy. Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle by Richard Louv were the selections for this year. Activities for the month-long event included suburban homesteading (community supported agriculture), "the secret life of compost" lecture, bird watching, local bald eagle photographer, Students for Sustainability providing plants for campus or home gardens, nature hikes, geocaching, nature based stories and crafts and organized book discussions.

The event also included presentations by Richard Louv. As a student in Nature Heals: An Introduction to Nature-Based Therapies and to honor Earth Day, I wanted to hear Mr. Louv. It was definitely worth the effort. In an engaging and relaxed manner (and without power point), Mr. Louv well described the benefits of being in nature, referred to the research we have studied in class and urged each of us to act for ourselves and our children for sustainable connections to the natural world.

A core principle he advoctes is "the more high tech we become, the more nature we need." He described the growing reliance in education on electronic technology without balance in the arts and exposure to nature. He advocates for "every dollar spent for the virtual there should be an equal dollar spent for the real (nature)". I think that's a great idea, but it will take a lot of motivated people of all ages to bring that principle to fruition. When it comes to money allocation, its a tough road to travel. Fortunately, we don't have to travel alone and without inspiration.
Initial steps on the road should include reading Richard Louv's books, visiting his website and looking around to see what you could do in your own community. That's where I'm starting.

WT research organization

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This organization, Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative, seems to be a clearinghouse of sorts for Wilderness Therapy research. It is put out by the University of New Hampshire. I noticed that two of the organizations that have already been mentioned in other posts--Soltreks and Open Sky- are members of this organization and help report and collect data. They also have links to researchers and publications.

Eco-Therapy & Eco-Psychology

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Here is a short (~7min), but interesting interview with Linda Buzzell, co-editor of the book Ecotherapy:Healing with Nature in Mind from Boston radio program Living on Earth. She discusses some of the common issues she has encountered as an ecotherapist, such as ecoanxiety. She also describes what a normal session with an ecotherapist might be like, which was pretty interesting.


Here is an excerpt from an article from the Utne Reader about ecotherapy, Ecotherapy for the Ecosoul, from Larry Robinson, who was also featured in the book Ecotherapy.

Ecopsychology seeks to address the sources of our cultural madness and to reestablish the lost connection with the more-than-human world. Its intention is to reanimate the world, to restore its soul. To do this we must remember that we are not simply imperfect machines but beings in a world that is alive with mystery.

Ecopsychological therapy--instead of dwelling on the questions What do I need? and How can I get it?--asks What is my place in the world? Rather than deriving machinelike standards for optimal functioning, it asks: What human qualities does a healthy ecosystem require? Sustainability is a key concept, in the sense of both how we, as a species, can live sustainably on the earth, and how we, as individuals, can create sustainable lives and relationships. (Robinson, n.d.)

One more article from the Utne:Ecopsychology: Whole Earth Mental Health

Open Sky Wilderness Therapy

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Right away, let me say that I was completely sold on this program. I was trying to keep my critical eye, but they passed my first reviews with ease.

This is the program link:

And this is the You Tube documentary (about 7 min) that first caught my attention:

Here's what I like about the program:
- I like the pictures of where and how it takes place - the vibe was good.
- I love that there is an emphasis on clinical practice and research, which made the staff sound focused, knowledgeable, and patient-focused.
- I liked that it was geared towards teens, young adults, and families
- Their mission statement totally hooked me: "At Open Sky, we assist teens, young adults and families struggling with difficult challenges and life circumstances. We provide a life-changing opportunity to discover and create a healthy life that is an intelligent and authentic expression of one's true nature as capable, worthy, honorable people. We invite you to explore our comprehensive website to learn more about the Open Sky experience."

There is a research section that follows students closely for a year after they leave - it is a heck of a system.

I searched for complaints or negative reviews of the program, and only found positive comments. They might also have an amazing marketing team, but I genuinely liked the program. From what I could see, alumni have only positive things to say and the research honestly reflected the findings.

My questions going forward would have to do with going further down the epidemiology path. I would want to see if this program could help think about some of the measurement issues we've talked about earlier this year (like how much "green" is the right amount of green). There are some issues with the Open Sky population, because in a mental health setting, you'll have differences with what people are willing to participate in. Still, I think that this program might be able to lend insight because it has already covered the science proving that the program is having measurable and sustained positive outcomes for alumni. They have an opportunity to go deeper from justifying their existence to engaging with the field in a broader way!

What a program!

Wilderness Therapy Program Accreditation

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While I was looking for information about Wilderness Therapy, I came across The Association for Experiential Education (AEE). This non-profit association provides information about and resources for many experiential based therapy programs, including wilderness therapy ones. This information is provided for practitioners, students, educators, and people looking to have involvement with these programs in some way.

In a few posts last week, I read about the concern for making sure a program is truly wilderness therapy and not boot-camp. Utilizing information provided by this organization can help! The organization provides accreditation for programs and information about programs that have been accredited by them. This provides people with additional information so they can be more confident in the type of program that they or their loved ones will be involved in.


Wilderness Therapy

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"Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity to the human spirit." - Edward Abbey
I found this video that gives a 7-minute documentary of a Wilderness Therapy program located in Durango, Colorado. In fact, it is the only holistic wilderness therapy program in the country. I thought it was awesome to see OpenSky use whole/organic foods in their natural state. They also use meats that haven't been "contaminated" by hormones and antibiotics. This would be an awesome experience. Field trip anyone? haha :)

Wilderness Therapy


Here is an interesting site I found about wilderness therapy in Minnesota. This program is dedicated to children, teens and adults. I have found that many programs cater to those who are in need of guidance, and this seems to be a helpful way in making changes in ones self efficacy. While this is important for those who need the extra help, I think it is crucial to make these trips more widely available for everyone, as a way to unwind and reconnect with nature. wilderness-youth-programs.jpg

Wilderness Therapy for Youth

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This article is very interesting! It touches on a lot of different points when considering wilderness therapy for youth. I found it extremely alarming that the article pointed out quite a few deaths. "Five teens died in Utah wilderness programs between 1990 and 2002, and a Utah teenager died in a Colorado program in 2007" (Whitehurst & Maffly, 2008). The article goes on to talk about reforms in the programs (making them less boot-camp like), but many still use survival skills as a main part of the program. They have to make fires the hard way, catch their food, etc... I'm not so sure if I agree with this type of hardcore wilderness therapy. Although I do definitely think that survival skills are essential, I'm not so sure if wilderness therapy is the place to learn them... but then again it could make sense for certain youth that are there for more serious problems perhaps...

wilderness therapy and relaxation

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Last week I found it difficult to find care farming farms in the United States so for this week's blog I really wanted to figure out if wilderness therapy is popular in the United States or just in the United Kingdom, like care farming. I was really excited to learn about how popular wilderness therapy is in the United States. This website alone lists some of the organizations that provide wilderness therapy and are looking to hire new employees.

From this website I found Pacific Quest, an organization that provides wilderness therapy in Hawaii! They have programs for young adults and adolescents. Here is a video of their philosophy. I think they do a good job of nurturing their students in a way that both helps them with whatever they may be dealing with and providing them with a safe and adventurous environment.

Visual of What We've Read

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Here is a video I came across about a specific care farm. I thought it was really cool to have a visual to look at to fully understand what the readings. Hopefully you guys will enjoy it as much as I did.

Outdoor Gyms

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I mentioned in our discussion last week that when I stayed in Montpellier, France this past summer there was an outdoor gym at the dorm I stayed in. I thought this was so amazing because I had never seen one before. Has anybody ever seen any around Minnesota? Just curious. Anyways, the link I posted above brings you to an article about the first outdoor gym in Soweto, South Africa. It is absolutely free and the machines are weather resistant. Apparently the company that made this first one plans to make 1,000 more in South Africa over the next two years. Many people are now exercising that did not before, especially because it's free and surrounded by the outdoors. I absolutely love this idea- especially the free part! Talk about a great incentive.

Care Farming

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This is a great little story about children and farming in their community. Their teacher wants to get this project going for them as a way to relax, be outside, grow, learn, and enjoy the fruits of their labors. Its great to see that this kind of thing is happening all over, and for all walks of life. Care Farm.jpg

Hospital goes green with living roof

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This entry isn't focused on care farming, but reflects a different type of healing garden. I wanted to share with you the living roof installed @ my hospital. The rooftop setting provides a place for clients and staff to get outside (when Spring finally arrives) as well as collecting rain water for watering the plants on the grounds. The news story is in print and video. Marta


local innovations in care farming/ranching

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Here are a couple local organizations that I know of. The first one, features a live-in ranch for young adults with autism in Montana as well as a local riding program. The woman who founded the ranch is a Minnesota Mom looking for a viable living situation for her own autistic son when he aged out of the children's therapy system. The website features some beautiful photos.The second one is next to Community Homestead in Osceola Wisconsin, and links up children's programs with UW Arboretum.
Erik's Ranch
Philadelphia Community Farm, Osceola WI

Care Farm vs. Big Pharm

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Care Farms of the Netherlands is a film that tells the story of two different cultures and their treatment of mental health.

Care farming has long been used in European countries to help treat a variety of mental health illnesses in a natural, therapeutic setting. It has grown in popularity with a diverse array of stakeholders including government entities, farmers, healthcare organizations and insurers working together to promote this healing practice.

Despite the positive results and significant cost savings care farming has produced in European countries, the practice has not taken root in the United States. Pharmaceutical care continues to be the treatment of choice for patients suffering from mental health issues in the U.S. despite the enormous cost and myriad side effects seen with these drugs.

The movie trailer to Care Farms of the Netherlands provides a sneak peak into these contrasting worlds and begs the question, why did I never hear of care farming until now?

Care Farming in Europe & the U.S.


It seems that Care Farming has much more of a presence in Europe than in the U.S. It was very easy to find information on farms in Europe, particularly the U.K. and the Netherlands. One farm that I discovered, Clinks Care Farm, has a wonderful program which they started in 2010. The program, Farming on Prescription, serves people with both mental and physical health problems. Mental Health Workers & General Practitioners in the area refer people to the 12 week program, where they assist in normal farm duties. Here is a link to the Clinks Care Farm website:

There are a few different videos online about the farm. Here is one from The Guardian:

Another Green Care farm program that I found is Sanctuary One at the Double Oak Farm, located in Oregon. They have a pretty good informational video about the work they do on their website. There are a number of care farms in Minnesota, such as Community Homestead in Osceola, WI and Minnesota Camphill Village in Sauk Centre. A good friend of mine has been working at Community Homestead for the last few years. I had the chance to visit last summer. They have a CSA, bakery, and a woodshop on-site. Here are a few photos from the visit:

community homestead.jpg
Community Homestead 2.jpg

Bird Ballet


Just for fun, a bird ballet. Beautiful.
A Bird Ballet

Angela Kariniemi Forest Bathing

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This video highlights some of the research from Japan on the benefits of forest bathing that we read about this week. Alan Logan makes a strong point that In a world where cities will continue to grow with the increasing population, it is going to be important to have research for city planners to look at so that they will keep and maintain some of the forests we have now..as he says, much harder to bring back a forest than to keep the one that is there. Shinrin-Yoku Forest BathingDesktop Background.bmp
Photo from:

Care Farms - Video and Organizing Information

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This is a video from a National Conference on Care Farming in the UK:

And this is the website from the organization, which talks about some of the efforts to fund and organize themselves:

I liked these pieces of information because it helped me get a sense of what people do in order to make these projects work. The organizing "achievements to date" page lists things like conferences, studies, and practitioners, all of which should have an effect on increasing the credibility of Care Farming as a therapeutic intervention - which is great! My next questions might be done along the lines of a belief elicitation study, wherein I asked people whom I hoped to serve what their present beliefs about Care Farming are. This would be important to understanding what would compel people to seek Care Farming out as an option, or not seek it out. I would also do a similar study among care providers, like medical personnel. Once I knew where the concept stood, I would have an idea of what we would need to overcome in order to continue to promote this concept. I feel like people who are just offered the opportunity could easily find the idea of care farming attractive - but I would want to isolate motivations even farther, in order to better frame the care farming and better understand what exactly patients are hoping to get out of the experience.

Masanobu Fukuoka

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As I was looking for something to post about this week I came across an advocacy website for care farming. I think the website does a good job of putting into laymen's terms what care farming is and what the benefits are. From this website I found Wildgoose Training Centre. Wildgoose Rural Training is actually where the Care Farming Advocacy website is based off of. It surprised me how many programs this organization offers involving care farming. They work with people of all ages and work with everything from social services to schools. I think this would be a good website to visit for those wanting to learn more about what other programs involve care farming.

Also, I found this quote on the first website that I think fits in with our class and this topic well "The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings." -Masanobu Fukuoka. This man is a pioneer for natural farming and if I reviewed the website correctly I believe he is what partially inspired the founders of the program.

Care Farming for Indivdiuals with Disabilites

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I wanted to share some information about The Farm in the Dell Foundation. This foundation helps create CSA type farms that are run by individuals who are disabled. The farms provide skill development, meaningful work, society integration, some level of independence, and therapeutic horticulture for the clients who work there. There are multiple farms currently set and running up by the foundation, and I know they are trying to get another started in my area. I've included a video about the organization that does a good job describing what they do from the perspectives of those involved with the farms.

Animals truly do heal

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I came across this video of dogs and cats visiting the elderly and sick in the hospital. I thought it was awesome to see the smiles on the faces of the patients when they were greeted by the animals. The elderly often get very lonely in nursing homes and hospitals. So, I think it's great that these animals can be used to brighten up their day!

Animals are family members, too.

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Animals are a lot things to people. They help assist humans during therapy and every day life. They are part of the family for many and during tough times they are never forgotten and reunited to those that have lost their many possessions. During Hurricane Sandy, The Humane Society rescued a ton of animals and this is the reason why animals have become so important to us over the centuries.

therapy cats

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As our last children moved out of the house, they were sure they would be replaced by the exact same number of cats (4). That didn't happen exactly. We now have a rescue Main Coon cat named Samba who is orienting us to the finer points of her breed. I often watch Animal Planet's Cats 101 looking to see what I can learn about cats in general and specifically about Main Coon cats. One episode about Oriental cats was particularly interesting because the mother didn't expect her son with autism to interact with the camera crew in any way. She was astonished when her son not only talked with the crew, but agreed to be interviewed with his cat. In trying (unsuccessfully) to find a link to that show I found:

1. A father's story about a cat's effect on his autistic son titled "A true story of the miracle a cat brought to an autistic boy" when his son ignored the dogs and adopted a cat @ http://cats.about.com/od/youandyourcat/a/catsandautism.htm

2. "Felines are great therapy" written by a young man with Aspergers @ http://pictures-of-cats.org/felines-are-great-therapy-animals-for autistic-children.html

3. A blog for mothers describing their autistic children's responses to pets @ http://www.circleofmoms.com/autismaspergerspdd-awareness/pets-469193

4. A site that has various stories about pets as therapy with pictures and how therapy cats are certified @ http://www.catscenterstage.com/therapy-cat4.shtml

Although I would say that the cats in my life have often provided therapy to me, I was suprised and pleased to read so many stories of their profound effects on children and their families who have such special needs. Marta

the wonder dog

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Here is an article that sums up the healing power of partnering with animals - in this case a dog. Every time I read it, I am blown away. I hope you can take a few moment and read it too.

Wonder Dog

Animal Assisted Interactions

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I found this link through the ASPCA website for certification for Animal Assisted Therapy programs and though I would post it here! Its great to see an organization so large helping to make these kinds of therapy possible. They mention bringing pets to nursing homes, hospitals, and classrooms to integrate these with the community for the betterment of all.
ASPCA website

spring horse poem

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Hi all, I'm sorry it looks like my youtube post didn't transfer...drat my spotty computer skills!
Here's a great poem by the late Minnesotan, James Wright:


Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their
They bow shyly as wet swans.
At home once more, they begin munching the young tufts
of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into Blossom.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2013 is the previous archive.

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