Wilderness Adventure Therapy®

You come to the wilderness to get in touch with yourself… You don’t come out here to get away from it all, but to get back to it all. You don’t get lost out here, you find yourself. You come home to what’s important, you come home to yourself.

Peter Dombrovskis, Photographer (1945 – 1996)

Adventure Psychology

Adventure Psychology is the study and clinical application of how adventurous experiences shape personality traits and psychological abilities that enhance adaptation to new or changing environments. This includes coping with adversity, building resilience, promoting healthy and effective psychological and social development. Key traits and abilities thought to be important include: risk-judgment and a capacity for risk-taking, emotional self-management, problem analysis and problem solving, including social and emotional problem solving, goal selection, goal focus and motivation, optimism, and a capacity to learn from failure and inter-personal feedback.

Wilderness Adventure Therapy®

Wilderness Adventure Therapy (WAT) is the world’s first evidence- based, manualised clinical intervention developed from the application of adventure psychology principles.  These programs have been run in numerous clinical, community counselling and educational settings and with a wide range of client groups and diagnoses since 1992.  We have an international reputation for our Australian Wilderness Adventure Therapy® Accreditation Scheme – again a world first.  We run WAT programs in schools for at-risk students as well as provide consultancy to schools and organisations to establish and run their own WAT programs on-going.

For many years we have been researching the benefits of WAT in a range of settings with many different client groups. This research indicates that these programs are as effective as the best known conventional treatments for mental health problems with adolescents. In fact, WAT holds many additional benefits such as enhancing resilience and normal development  – see research findings.

In over 15 years in the field, we have an exceptional record of safe practice. Our field teams comprise Psychologists and fully-qualified and highly experienced adventure activity leaders. All staff have completed our leading, highly regarded Australian Wilderness Adventure Therapy® Accreditation Scheme. Programs typically run part-time for 8-10 weeks with 3 & 6 month follow-ups. Significant benefits in many areas can be achieved in this time. Neo provides all activity equipment and personal gear. We run programs for schools or youth organisations when requested, but unfortunately we do not offer self-referred stand-alone programs.

Dr Simon Crisp developed and produced, and Neo Psychology now runs the world’s first and only accreditation scheme of this evidence-based, manualised treatment. Since 2002, this training has been run in four States around Australia, with over 70 mental health and outdoor practitioners completing structured courses.

Please note that we only offer this training to organiations and do not currently offer self-enrolled courses for individuals. However, clinical supervision and consultation may be available to practitioners and teams on a sessional basis.

The following courses comprise parts of the training and accreditation scheme:

Introduction to WAT course – download a flyer from the last course

Psychological First Response course – download a flyer from the last course

WAT Practicum – download a flyer from the last course

Intermediate WAT Course – download a flyer from the last course

WAT has consistently shown clear clinical evidence of its benefits in treating a range of psychological disorders and behavioural problems, including depression. Further, WAT enhances normal development and builds many protective factors in ways conventional therapy rarely does.

Download our 27 page summary:

Treatment Effectiveness of WAT®



  • An Evaluation of the Barwon Health, Adolescent Mental Health Service – GO WEST Wilderness Adventure Therapy® program (2003). Neo Psychology Publication, Melbourne.


  • The Systemic Wilderness Adventure Therapy®: Research And Development (SWATRAD) Project – Final Report (2002). Neo Psychology Publication, Melbourne.

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