Association for Experiential Education Conference Keynote Address


The 23rd Annual NW Regional Association for Experiential Education (AEE) Conference is being held at the 4-H Conference Center in Salem, Oregon on March 25-27. The conference theme is Challenge! Risk is Learning. In addition to a great variety of individual workshops focusing on aspects of experiential education each day; there will also be related sessions focusing on therapeutic adventure, experience based training and development, and schools and colleges.  Thomas will be presenting the keynote address on March 26th from 7:45-9pm.


Risk & Mindset: An Experiential and Insight-based Approach to Fostering Psychological Risk in Experiential Education

In this keynote address, psychologist and AEE member Thomas Doherty will explore the psychology of risk and risk-resilient mindsets in the context of education and adventure settings. In particular, Thomas will discuss research on the benefits of a growth mindset—seeing ones achievements as a product of dedication and effort rather than fixed traits and abilities – and how this mindset increases willingness to attempt new and difficult tasks, and promotes learning and future accomplishments. Using experiential exercises, humor, and self-reflection, Thomas will demonstrate how to recognize and foster a growth mindset. Most importantly, Thomas will offer tips on balancing the risks taking necessary to a leader’s personal and professional development with the compassion and expertise to create healthy risk experiences for those we work with.

Speaker Bio

Thomas_DohertyThe New York Times called AEE member Thomas Joseph Doherty “the most prominent American advocate of a growing discipline known as ‘ecopsychology.’ Thomas focuses his psychology work on environmental identity and behavior change and specializes in helping people and organizations with ecological values. Thomas draws on 20 years of experience of facilitating therapy, education, and personal growth experiences in settings ranging from primitive skills expeditions to inpatient hospital units. Thomas spent several years as a field staff and supervisor at programs like Vision Quest and Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Programs and has also worked as a river guide in Grand Canyon. In addition to his therapy and consultation practice in Portland, Oregon, Thomas trains counselors at the Lewis & Clark Graduate School and is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Ecopsychology. Thomas recently helped author the American Psychological Association’s Climate Change Task Force Report.

AEE Specific Experience

Thomas is a member of AEE, is familiar with AEE audiences’ needs, and has presented at several AEE regional and international conferences on topics related to wilderness and adventure therapy. Thomas met his wife at an AEE Northeast Regional meeting. Thomas strives to integrate experiential elements to his talks, whether through the addition of formal initiatives or through encouragement of movement, multi-sensory modes, mindfulness, and small group sharing.

Published by Thomas Doherty

Psychologist Thomas Doherty's work on environmental sustainability and health has been featured in publications like the New York Times and in talks worldwide. Thomas consults with individuals and organizations through his business Sustainable Self. He was the founding Director of the Ecopsychology Certificate Program at Lewis & Clark Graduate School and Founding Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed academic journal Ecopsychology. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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