What is the Adventure Therapy International Committee?

The Adventure Therapy International Committee is made up of a group of some 45 members from 30 nations who oversee hosting of triennial International Adventure Therapy Conferences and together support adventure therapy around the globe.

1.Core principles of ATIC

ATIC’s mission is to promote and support professional practice, research and the development of adventure therapy worldwide.

ATIC’s vision is to contribute to a world where adventure therapy is widely understood as a transformative way to help individuals, families and communities achieve their full potential.

ATIC’s motto is to inspire change through adventure therapy.

ATIC’s objectives are that:

  1. All people will have the opportunity to experience the power of adventure as a therapeutic medium
  2. Adventure-based practices will be recognised as valuable in all therapeutic contexts
  3. Strong international and intercultural linkages will exist between adventure therapy practitioners, researchers, academics, trainers, facilitators and students
  4. The global community of adventure therapy will be a strong, creative and respectful community.

ATIC’s values (under development) are:

  • Peace between cultures
  • Freedom for individuals
  • Human – nature relationships
  • Opportunities for all people to reach their full potential
  • Adventure therapy as a powerful therapeutic medium

2. A brief history of ATIC

The predecessor of ATIC was formed in July 1997 immediately after the first international adventure therapy conference (1IATC) in Perth, Western Australia. An informal committee representing a range of different countries met to decide on the host and location of the second international adventure therapy conference (2IATC). This process was repeated in Augsburg, Germany, immediately after the 2IATC in March 2000, and again in Victoria, Canada after the third international adventure therapy conference (3IATC) in 2003.

At the fourth international adventure therapy conference (4IACT) held in Rotorua, New Zealand in February 2006, the decision was made to form an Adventure Therapy International Committee (ATIC) to oversee continuation of the triennial international adventure therapy conferences. At a 4IATC meeting of all interested delegates, a Chair was appointed and representatives from a number of countries were appointed.

By 2009 a significant amount of time had been put into establishing guiding principles or “Organisational intentions” by the ATIC chair and supportive members. Work continued on this document by ATIC chairs and members at the fifth (5IATC) held in Edinburgh, Scotland and the sixth (6IATC) held in Bohemia, Czech Republic. Developments were largely stimulated by face to face ATIC meetings held at the international conferences, along with member-wide emails and smaller working groups who undertook specific tasks along the way. The ATIC delegate meeting associated with the 7IATC in Denver, USA in May 2015 was attended by representatives from 22 countries.

3. ATIC’s Organisational Functioning

Membership of ATIC

The committee is comprised of two people from any nation. Ideally, each pair of members from one nation will balance gender, culture and practitioner/academic, and understand the range of adventure therapy practices within their nation or region.

Membership criteria

The following membership criteria frame the skills and work required and desired of committee members in furthering ATIC’s mission.

  • Essential: Passion, commitment and ability to fulfil committee roles. Nationally linked with access to resources. Actively participate in national and international networks. Where possible can attend relevant conferences including international adventure therapy conferences.
  • Desirable: Support and resources available for committee work. Willingness to develop opportunities to meet physically. Access to a range of funding options.

National representation

Each national adventure therapy organisation or network (large or small, formal or informal) is responsible for electing or nominating up to two representative ATIC members. In countries without a national representative organisation, members will often be someone attending the IATC who self-nominates. ATIC encourages these individuals to then develop a community of practitioners/academics in their home country. If possible, the national representative organisation (large or small, formal or informal) would work on supporting some of the costs of their committee member’s travel to international adventure therapy conferences.

Term of service

The term of membership for committee members is a minimum of three years, ideally 6 years. To ensure continuity of ATIC and national organisations, it is recommended that one national member be replaced at alternating triennial IATC conferences. ATIC is composed of national representatives and an executive committee charged with the responsibility of conducting ATIC business with guidance form the larger committee. The executive will be elected democratically by ATIC at each international adventure therapy conference.

The role of ATIC members (National representatives)

National representatives are responsible for liaising between their existing national organisation (large or small, formal or informal) and ATIC (or advancing the development of a national organisation), promoting AT nationally and representing ATIC and its mission.

ATIC members provide a link between the international adventure therapy community and people in their country or region that are involved in adventure therapy or closely related occupations. To do this, they undertake a range of activities that may include the following:

  • Creating, joining or supporting the development of local, national and regional networks of people who are interested in adventure therapy
  • Actively networking with people in their region who are in related occupations such as occupational therapy, psychotherapy, youth justice, nature-based therapies etc. to co-create a community of related occupations
  • Promoting workshops, seminars, conferences and educational events related to adventure therapy, whether they be local, national or international
  • Answering queries related to adventure therapy that they receive directly or via other ATIC members
  • Linking with universities and training institutions that provide training, education and research in adventure therapy and related fields.

Member commitments

ATIC will convene every three years for one or two days prior to the start to of the conference, and possibly at times during or after the conference. All members are expected to attend these meetings, supported by the conference host. Incoming nationally elected members are expected to attend but will not participate in decision-making processes. During conferences, members will meet at nominated times as well as a concluding business meeting to consolidate the new committee and identify future business/initiatives.

In addition, it is desirable for ATIC to meet once between conferences at the next host location to progress the work of ATIC and support the local IATC host committee (for example 18 months after the last conference). Ideally, national associations (large or small, formal or informal) will support the attendance of at least one national representative.

Executive Committee Roles and Responsibilities

Elected at the conclusion of IATC, the executive holds the responsibility of fulfilling the business of ATIC. Each position carries with it expectations for sub-committee development as needed to meet ATIC mission. The executive is nominated and elected by ATIC members. It is intended that the Chair of the executive committee will have previously held an executive committee position. Members of the executive committee recruit sub-committees as needed to fulfil their roles.


ATIC is currently chaired by 4 people making up the ‘co-chair’ positions.  The current co-chairs are: Carina Ribe Fernee (Norway), Amy Horn (New Zealand), Virginie Gargano (Canada) and Stephan Natynczuk (England).  Their roles, contact and short personal descriptions are below.

Amy Horn (NZ) Advancing the field of practice and keeping website updated.
Virginie Gargano (Can) International representatives
Carina Ribe Fernee (Nor) Link to 9IATC, Norway, 2021
Stephan Natynczuk (UK) Consolidation of ATIC, strategy

Carina Ribe Fernee works as a clinician and researcher at the Department of child and adolescent mental health at Sørlandet Hospital in Southern Norway. She is part of the Friluftsteam which have integrated friluftsliv–or the simple life outdoors–into the mental health services for adolescents. Carina attended her first International Adventure Therapy Conference (IATC) in Denver in 2015, where she became a Norwegian representative in the Adventure Therapy International Committee (ATIC). Since the 8IATC in Australia Carina is one of four co-chairs of ATIC for the 2018-2021 time period, where her main task is the coordination of the 9IATC-related communication between the local organizing committee in Norway and the international community. Make sure to pencil in NORWAY 9IATC JUNE 2021 in your calendars. Velkommen til Norge, alle sammen!

Amy Horn has been working in the outdoors for over 15 years with a focus on developmental and therapeutic outcomes.  She works with a NGO Adventure Specialties Trust in New Zealand where they partner with other community service providers to offer adventure therapy experiences from half and day through to multi day expeditions. Amy attended her first International Adventure Therapy Conference (IATC) in Denver in 2015, where she became the representative for New Zealand on ATIC. She has been a key part of the re-establishment of the adventure therapy network for practitioners in New Zealand over the past 4 years.  She is excited about seeing the consolidation and growth of the field of adventure therapy internationally – and hopes to contribute to this through her role on the International Committee Chair!

As a guide and a facilitator in different types of programs (adventure therapy and outdoor
education), Virginie Gargano has spent years in the field while pursuing her studies in an
Outdoor adventure program at the bachelor level, then in Social work for her master’s and
PhD degree. She has worked with a diversity of organizations, at Université du Québec à
Chicoutimi (UQAC)’s outdoor program, at Ottawa University and at the National Outdoor
Leadership School (NOLS). Being responsible for creating and executing many adventure
therapy and outdoor education programs in Québec over the years has led her to become a
leading figure her field. Virginies main task on the co-chair is supporting the international representatives.

Stephan Natynczuk

Dr Stephan Natynczuk is an independent, solution focused, practitioner specialising in outdoor learning and adventure therapy as a practitioner, trainer, and supervisor.

Stephan frequently works with adolescents referred by schools and local authorities. In working with adults his main interests are practitioner training, Host Leadership, and sustaining creativity, especially strategies for reducing burnout in key personnel.  Stephan holds a good range of adventure leadership qualifications, is a Leading Practitioner of the Institute for Outdoor Learning, an accredited counsellor and supervisor, holds an executive MBA, and is a Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Worcester.