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Wilderness Therapy – Nurturing relationships with self, others and the natural world

--- Humanity Rising Day 248 - Friday May 14, 2021     (GoTo Bottom)
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In this session, Myles Farnbank and Jo Roberts of the Wilderness Foundation UK will guide you through the role of wilderness and nature therapy in an ever changing and turbulent world. Understanding the origins of this now popular field of therapy  will be explored including opening up the understanding of wilderness as a metaphor, concept and reality.

After over 40 years of combined wilderness teaching, they will share their passion for encouraging a deep and loving relationship to the earth and the natural world.  They will explore how and why wilderness therapy can influence human transformation and growth - both for ones self and in social relationships.  They will go on to show how this relationship must be reciprocal - in supporting the earth and nature we are supporting ourselves.  This is reinforced through a strong natural ethic drawing on a wide range of thought and principles such as leave no trace.

Understanding the spiritual connections of humans and nature lie at the heart of this talk, but equally they will share the many years of research informing outcomes that demonstrate the power of the wild in healing emotional wounding -  working towards emotional wellbeing, improved self esteem and self acceptance.

Jo Roberts has been a Director and Chief Executive of the Wilderness Foundation since 2004, but has been involved as Projects Director and Project Coordinator since 1998. South African by birth, she enjoyed a rich life of wild places in many parts of Africa as she grew up. Jo trained and worked as a Social Anthropologist during the time of Apartheid, working mainly with rural communities and included indigenous knowledge collection relating to ecology and plant and tree usage. Understanding and measuring the effects of value on wellbeing and encouraging people to respect and understand the value of wilderness and nature lies at the heart of her passion in this work. She today works with a focus on the effects of wilderness in developing sound youth empowerment built on environmental awareness and ethics, and developing positive wellbeing and mental health in young people who are vulnerable or at risk. Using the extensive wilderness networks and my close links to South Africa and Europe, and programmes running there, she merges best practice from around the world into creative programmes that suit British climate and culture.Over the past 23 years, she  established a wide range of programmes within the Foundation to meet these needs of nature connections, individuals and society as a whole. These include Wild Swans women’s leadership, Sirius Environmental Leadership Programme, TurnAround Programme, Out There Programme and the Chatham Green Education Programme. As a passionate advocate for the Imbewu Programme in South Africa, in 2014 she launched a Scottish programme to mirror this previously called Imbewu Scotland and now Treun which means Brave in Gaelic. Jo   leads the South Africa wilderness trails out reach – keeping her love of the wild intact and sharing this with others. This involves working with schools and leadership groups to experience the true wilderness of the Imfolozi Game Reserve in primitive back packing, and other wild places in Europe and Scotland.Over the past 5 years she has  been delivering wilderness therapy programmes for adults and young people - and teaching wilderness therapy theory and practice to other therapists who want to take on this work - teaching in the UK, Slovakia, Poland and France. Jo is a Master NLP Practitioner and Advanced Psychotherapeutic Integrative Counsellor, as well as an REBT coach. She uses her skills in behaviour change facilitation and motivation across the board, with a particular focus on the outdoors. Wherever she can she facilitates and leads groups and loves the design of outdoor programmes for a wide and diverse range of clients ranging from survivors of domestic violence, asylum seekers, youth at risk, adults with trauma or mental and emotional challenges, children and individual clients. She currents serves as a Commissioner with the Essex Climate Action Commission and enjoys each day of learning and action in how to make a difference in order to protect biodiversity, drive positive behaviour change as part of the wider picture to protect our planet..from ourselves and for all life on earth.  She believes her work is not work but life in itself.

  • Myles Farnbank has over 30 years experience of working in the outdoor sector and has personal experience of sea kayaking, canoeing, sailing and mountaineering in many of the worlds wildest places. As well as being an adventure travel guide, Myles has been a head of an outdoor education centre, Professional Development Coordinator (Scotland) for the Institute for Outdoor Learning, youth development worker, and an adventure & marine tourism lecturer.  He is vice-chair for the Scottish Adventure Activities Forum (SAAF),  a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and a Lead Practitioner of The Institute for Outdoor Learning (LPIOL).  In recent years he has been a consultant to adventure travel businesses and DMO’s around the world. He has been very involved in staff training, both bespoke and ‘off the-shelf’ products for practitioner and academic audiences. This includes creating the UK’s first Adventure Guide training programme.  He is the UK representative on the governance board for the Adventure Travel Guide Standard (ATGS). Myles has been involved with WFUK for many years as a trainer, trail creator/leader, then as advisor to the board on Outdoor Education and then as a trustee.  He is passionate about the wild places of Scotland and the transformative and healing power of time spent in wild nature. His current development focus is training as a meditation and forest therapy guide. He coordinates all WFUK activity in Scotland as the Scotland Manager.


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