What happened in the field of outdoor therapy in the Nordic countries in 2018: Sweden

January 14, 2019

Sweden is brewing with interest and excitement for the possibilities to form an active network between individuals and groups interested in developing the field of nature/forest/outdoor/eco/green/wilderness therapy and experiences. There are several ongoing individual projects around the country. Here are a few examples:

Petra Ellora Cau Wetterholm describes her own work in forest therapy as follows: Nature based therapy and rehab (besides garden therapy, which already has an established position in Sweden) is just now starting to catch real interest over here, thus opening more opportunities to start to be taken seriously by the society at large. My own work within the field of Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy is spreading. I have worked guiding walks in various fields, for example expanding into more corporate work, contributing to big events and appearing in the media. It's been a busy year for me indeed! In the spring I held a talk and a workshop at the outdoor therapy conference in Bragdöya, Norway. It was fantastic to get to know many Norwegian and Danish leaders, therapists and people interested in the topic there. In August I presented my pilot study on guided Forest Therapy from Primary Health Care, for stress related disorders/exhaustion syndrome, anxiety and depression, at the International Forest Therapy Days, IFTD, in Finland (http://www.foresttherapydays.com/year2018/) and conducted workshops for a great bunch of lovely people. And last but not least, I led a forest bathing training course in Turkey! At the moment I am working more in depth to create a system of education and training in this field, more adhering to professionals who wish to use Forest Therapy for a clinical population. I am also writing a book on the subject.

Niklas Taliaferro has together with a team created and is teaching a year-long “folkhögskolekurs”, called “Naturliv”. Thirty students have the opportunity to learn hard and soft skills about living in and with nature. He is also running programs with schools, focusing on nature connection and community building.

Maria Palmer located during 2018 enthusiasm to develop a Wilderness therapy pilot project for youth in Härjedalen. She will continue to network with people who are local to this area. There is very good response from individuals with interest to combine clinical treatment for youth and families with being in nature. Vildmarksterapi I Sverige (VIS) will continue with the mission of making this a reality.

Seeds are planted, and begin to take root, as NUR, (Naturunderstödd rehabilitering, Nature supported rehabilitation) is taking place in different parts of the country. For example: Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet (SLU) gives courses in garden therapy and two Vårdcentraler (health centers) in the Stockholm area will start projects that include NUR. Petra and Maria are creating their own version of this; combining Nature and Forest therapy with clinical group therapy at a community health center. They lead groups of patients with mental health issues and have very good results.

Maria was fortunate to represent Sweden at the invigorating and inspiring 8AITC in Australia in September. She is now on a mission to spur interested people in Sweden to become organized around the theme Outdoor Therapy.

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