Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Assessment of Therapeutic Skills and Knowledge of Outdoor Leaders in the United States and Canada
by McCarty, Matthew M., M.A., Prescott College, 2014, 177; 1557626
Abstract (Summary)

Using an online survey methodology and descriptive statistics, 92 self-identified outdoor leaders, representing a spectrum of wilderness experience programs in the United States and Canada, were surveyed to ascertain their knowledge of select psychological theories and concepts relevant to outdoor leadership. This study explores personal leadership philosophies, attitudes, and practices and knowledge regarding the facilitation of trip participants' relational development with self, others, and the natural world. General findings indicate that leaders possess a range of knowledge and skills to facilitate participants' relational development. Therapeutic outdoor leadership is tripartite relational theory emerging from outdoor programming literature. This study finds that leaders are actively nurturing participant well-being through a relational framework, indicated by the 34% of respondents who agree with the author's definition of outdoor leadership, addressing relational development of intra, inter, and transpersonal domains. However, findings indicate that leaders do not necessarily have, or are being educated in content and skills to maximize their abilities to develop outdoor program participants' relational abilities. Less than 13% of outdoor leaders are familiar with the concepts of therapeutic alliance, transference, and countertransference. Nearly all outdoor leaders claim to facilitate participant-nature relationships, approximately 80% use nature based metaphors, 72% use ceremonies or rituals, and most of the benefits attributed to contact with nature were identified. Most participants are unfamiliar with conservation psychology, the biophilia hypothesis, or ecopsychology. Almost half of outdoor leaders understand what self-efficacy describes and 55% of respondents were familiar with locus of control. Additionally, this survey explores leaders' perceptions about trust factors, how they define emotional safety, relevant professional boundaries, and feedback giving strategies.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Norton, Christine L.
Commitee: Mitten, Denise, Wagstaff, Mark
School: Prescott College
Department: Adventure Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 53/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Environmental education, Educational leadership, Educational psychology
Keywords: Adventure education, Outdoor leadership, Relational leadership, Relationship-based programming, Therapeutic leadership
Publication Number: 1557626
ISBN: 9781303952982
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