Initial Training of Field Instructors in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Programs


  • Geneviève Marchand SUNY College at Oneonta
  • Keith C. Russell Western Washington University


Currently, the training and education of outdoor leaders has mostly been directed towards instructing technical, educational and relationship skills (Priest & Gass, 2005). This approach often omits critical skills necessary to deal with the job demand stressors that come from working in outdoor education settings, including outdoor behavioral healthcare (OBH) programs that work with challenging youth. Some job demands stressors typically found in OBH programs include: a) psychological and emotional issues of clients, b) demanding work schedule, c) remote work areas and d) certain intervention strategies utilized to successfully help youth overcome their personal issues. (Marchand, Russell & Cross, 2009). Previous research has found that working in OBH requires support at various levels to sustain and help develop the individuals working in this unique area of outdoor education and human services. By assuring that programs provide employees with the specific tools necessary to deal with the unique job demand stressors, they will be better able to fulfill their mission and goals of providing quality outdoor educational and therapeutic services to clients. Improvements should also be made to understand the ideal length and content of these initial trainings (Davis-Berman & Berman, 1994; Russell, Gillis & Lewis, 2008). In the context of a larger study (Marchand, 2009), the initial training of field instructors in OBH was examined for prevalence, length, satisfaction and content. This focus was meant to increase the understanding of this overlooked aspect of OBH, review potential information that may give insight into the management of job demand stressors, and provide information for future studies on the subject.