‘In the Spotlight’ Presentations

The 8IATC will share a wide range of experiences and sensations, from plenary speakers to small-group interactive workshops, along with seminars, experiential sessions, posters, interest group meetings and physically active groups.

Sometimes called Keynotes, each of our ‘Spotlight speakers’ address one of four key streams underpinning the 8IATC conference theme ‘Expanding the circles’. Our special guests will engage, enthuse and provoke us towards clearer appreciation of the scope, practices and potential of Adventure Therapy within international contexts.

At the Core – Adventure therapy research and practice

This theme encourages us to look at what is central or at the core of our work – for some this might be a look at the heart of practice, for others it may mean questioning what works, how and why.  

Dr. Nevin Harper will take us to the core of adventure therapy and research. He has more than twenty years leadership experience in outdoor adventure education and therapy. His professional employment and previous positions reflect the diversity of Nevin’s exploration in areas of human development and environmental influences across educational and therapeutic fields. He has been Associate Professor in the School of Child & Youth Care (University of Victoria), National Research Coordinator (Outward Bound Canada), Founder of the Canadian Adventure Therapy Symposium, and Co-founder of the Child & Nature Alliance of Canada. As a practitioner, his approach is relational, client-centered and grounded in an eco-psychological frame and an ethic of care. He is currently co-chair of the Adventure Therapy International Committee and is one of the Canadian representatives.

Nevin completed a Ph.D. thesis in Education (Recreation, Parks & Leisure) at the University of Minnesota in 2007 entitled ‘A mixed-methods examination of family involvement in adolescent wilderness therapy’, and M.A. thesis in Leadership & Training at Royal Roads University in 2004 entitled ‘Risk management: A model for outdoor adventure curriculum’ along with a B.A. in Leisure Studies & Services at the University of Oregon in 1993. His major areas of interest include outdoor & experiential education, child & youth development, adventure programming, leadership, eco-psychology, human-nature relationships and place-based learning. Nevin maintains field qualifications and trainer status with the Outdoor Council of Canada and Paddle Canada.

Overlapping – Merging adventure therapy with allied professions

This stream emphasises our intersections with other professional fields, approaches and techniques. While our roots are strong, we have a history of ‘borrowing’ knowledge and practices from other fields. This stream exposes and explores professional commonalities and ways in these shared concerns and approaches may enhance and extend the scope and practice of AT.

Karen Field will take us to the edges of our allied fields of practice. She is Chief Executive Officer of Drummond Street Services and National Chief Executive of Stepfamilies Australia. Karen also sits on the Board of Directors of the Family and Relationship Services Australia peak-body. She brings over 26 years of experience in developing, managing and delivering a range of evidence-based programs and services that span the public health spectrum across a range of sectors, including health (primary and mental health) and welfare, tertiary education, employment, and justice sectors.

Karen’s work has involved roles in policy, National Centres of Excellence (Beyondblue and Centre for Adolescent Health) and community based organisations. Her key areas of interest are family-focused public policy, research and practice, contributing to research and evaluation in early intervention, and representing the contribution of small NGOs. As a critical friend, Karen will to help refine and articulate perceived opportunities, current hazards and future strategies that may enhance our field’s growth nationally and internationally. Originally a Social worker, Karen has always enjoyed natural environments, has attended AABAT forums and supervised bush adventure therapy programs.

At the edge – Exploring the new

This theme challenges us to consider contributions that may seem ‘a bit of a stretch’ – this includes broader holistic health and wellbeing experiences and wider outcomes for participants, practitioners and policy-makers.

Jess Huon will take us to new places within our ourselves and our work while provoking deep understanding on concepts of health and wellbeing. Jess has been engaged in meditative and embodiment practices since the age of seventeen. She has trained in traditional Buddhist monastic settings, inter-faith contexts of meditative inquiry and has spent long periods of solitary forest practice in India, Australia, Spain and the USA. In 2009 Jess was awarded a scholarship to study Buddhist texts at Spirit Rock (near San Francisco). She holds a bachelor of Creative Arts (VCA) and a post-graduate degree in Therapeutic Arts practice (RMIT). Jess brings traditional teaching alive in a fresh and transformative manner. She is described as a natural orator whose talks offer ‘street language for the soul’. Deeply informed but not bound by tradition, her style and insights are grounded in contemporary life.

Throughout Australia Jess offers a rich calendar of Public talks, retreats, Yatras, workshops and one to one mentoring sessions. She is also a published author and Associate Director of Rollercoaster Theatre Company, a not-for-profit ensemble of trained actors with disabilities based in Melbourne. ‘For me, meditation isn’t about insulating ourselves in private chambers of peace, rather it’s a method of practice that supports us to find the inner ground needed to look squarely at the ‘grace and grit’ in our personal, and world, situation. Meditation affords us the space to dive deeper than habitual reactivity in order to find fresh responses to meet the howl of the world’.

Spirals – Traditional wisdom in a contemporary context

This stream invites us to spiral in and spiral out and make connections between past and present. It asks us to consider future trajectories in light of past wisdoms, and to explore how we will remain a responsive field of practice rooted in healthy traditions.

Spirals have traditionally indicated growth, moving from traditional ways of doing things forward, or perhaps revisiting traditional approaches in a new way. Out spotlight speakers for this theme will be Indigenous elders who practice internationally, applying traditional approaches to current world imperatives. As well as looking back, this theme invites us to consider future trajectories and where are we heading next…