Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) Center

University of New Hampshire in the College of Health and Human Services

Established in 2015 with the mission to advance the field of adventure therapy and outdoor behavioral healthcare through the development of best practices, effective treatments, and evidenced-based research.

OBH Center Changes are Coming!

Since its inception, the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) Center has promoted research, accreditation and risk management in wilderness and adventure therapy programs. The Center evolved from the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative (OBHRC), which began in 1999 under the direction of Dr. Keith Russell. To date, the OBH Center has been led by Dr. Michael Gass and Dr. Anita R. Tucker, with research conducted by seven active research scientists, affiliate researchers, graduate students, and community partners. This collective effort has led to over 200 research studies, leading to best practices, ethical guidelines, and insurance reimbursement in wilderness and adventure therapy. We are grateful for the vision and leadership of Dr. Gass, who is retiring in May 2024 to spend more time adventuring with family & friends.
The OBH Center is excited to announce its reorganization under the new leadership of Dr. Anita Tucker and Dr. Christine Lynn Norton with an expanded focus on Experiential Learning and Outdoor Therapy to include evolving practices in experiential education; public health and wellness; diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the outdoors; and clinical applications of experiential and outdoor practices. This process began in June 2023 when the Center’s funding grant with the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council was ended in an intentional effort to address concerns around transparency in research. We at the OBH Center stand behind the research we have conducted since its inception guided by our dedication to objective and critical research of outdoor therapies in both community and wilderness settings. We also understand the need to evolve as the field evolves and we look forward to ongoing dialogue and partnerships with current and future stakeholders.

As part of this process we are working with Julia Alvarez and Point B(e) Strategies in strategic planning in order to best guide our future direction in this evolution. We have an active group of practitioners, researchers, scholars, and stakeholders involved in this process and look forward to reaching out for feedback from our professional community and sharing our new initiatives and directions in the coming year.

OBH Center Transport Task Force

Guided by our belief in the importance of client voice and client choice, the OBH Center lead by Dr. Christine Norton and Dr. Michael Gass came together with a collaborative group of stakeholders (parents, clients who have been transported, program staff, clinicians, transport professionals and researchers) to explore transport in wilderness programs and make recommendations for best practices.

Click Here for a copy of the OBH Center Task Force's Report

Ethics Statement

Transparency, objectivity, and trust are critical features of all practices of the OBH Center. All of the research produced by the OBH Center is reviewed by the Institutional Review Board of the University of New Hampshire for ethical and accurate research practices before any studies ever begin. All research practices conducted by the Center follow not only the guidelines of this Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of New Hampshire, but also the Missenden Code of ethics and accountability (2002) for appropriate ethical practices by university research entities. Research conducted by the OBH Center seeks to:

  • address universal problems resulting in benefits for society as a whole
  • be objective in the design and implementation of research activities and take an unbiased position in reporting results
  • conduct all operations openly, honestly, objectively, and responsibly
  • disclose to all colleagues and the public any financial or personal interests so that audiences are fully informed.
  • be independent in the research and publication of any informed findings and publications

The Center currently receives its funding from foundation grants aimed at improving outdoor therapy services for participants across the continuum of treatment.