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ePortfolio: Dr. Michael A. Gass






This ePortfolio describes my efforts to advance the use of adventure therapy and other methodologies to address issues of mental health and substance abuse in our society. Most of my work is in the development of best practices, effective treatments, stringent accreditation standards, and evidence-based research. You will find summaries of these in the pages listed on the floating menu above.

I am a Full Professor and Director of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and a long serving member of the Association for Experiential Education (AEE). I direct the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative (OBHRC) and the research database for the National Association for Therapeutic Schools and Prorams (NATSAP). I am also a Licensed Marital and Family Therapist with a consulting practice in my community of Durham, NH.






Past work with my colleagues has produced these findings:

  • adventure therapy participants are safer on a program than being at home. In the bar graph below, we compared the injury rates of adventure therapy programs with outdoor and other sports over several years. We found that adventure therapy was less likely to cause injury than more publicly accepted exposures, such as playing football, and carried an actual risk that was equivalent to daily living. MORE ABOUT DANGERS OF BEING AT HOME _______________
  • programs using outdoor behavioral healthcare appropriately produce greater results in treatment than other interventions. In the line graph above, we compared three programs: Project Adventure's Behavior Management through Adventure (BMtA = intentional adventure therapy), a Residential Outdoor Program (ROP = boot camp with adventure, but no intentional therapy), and a Youth Detention Center (YDC = incarceration, with therapy, but no intentional adventure). The strength of the study was matching 347 male offenders on age (under 17 years at arrest) and days in prison across the three groups. Simply put, we found that the adventure therapy program (BMtA) was less costly to operate and more effective at preventing re-offense over three years of follow-up than either of the other two programs.
  • programs that pursue AEE/OBH accreditation are safer and more productive of healthy outcomes than programs that are not accredited. ______

The effectiveness of outdoor behavioral healthcare can be linked to five factors:

  1. the group processing that occurs during the therapeutic adventure experiences. ______
  2. the therapeuticadventure experience that serves as a catalyst for change. ______
  3. the conduct of therapy in a wilderness or natural setting. ______
  4. the healthy living associated with appropriate exercise and nutrition. ______
  5. the goals or norms established from the therapeutic adventure experience. ______








In your interactions with other people, seek the state of compassion:

−Tenaciously encourage and support the optimistic solutions found in yourself and others.
−Seek the paths of kindness and empathy as you work with others.
−Strive to engage in just acts that have the highest degree of moral integrity.
−Contextualize your worldview in other cultures by understanding their “golden rule” as well as your own.
−Preserve and enrich the concepts of an undefeatable human spirit possessing integration to all people.
−Walk the path of humility.

−Seek the human elements in yourself and others by how you choose to live your life.
Find the good in people.
Choose your attitude.
Be compassionate.
Walk humbly.
Do justice.
Be there.



It can be shared forever, but cannot be kept forever.
When given to another, it brings great joy to all; when taken, the anguish for many is great.
It is sometimes maintained by less than the thread of a string and sometimes lost despite the hope of millions.
Its frailty and end are obvious, but its strength and limits endless.

So share your life with me while we are together, so we can create that which will bring joy to others.

When this life is over, let the meaning of our lives be found not on a list of accomplishments, but in the hearts and souls of the people with whom we shared our fragile existence.

Let our lives not be measured so much by what we did for others, but by what we helped people do for themselves.


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