Dr. Sandy Newes
Denise Mitten, PhD
Denise Mitten, PhD is a widely experienced international adventure guide, from SCUBA to mountaineering (Himalayas, Swiss Alps, and USA, including Denali). She advocates for the need for healthy contact with nature for human development and well-being and studies the intersection of health and wellness while being in nature including spirituality, a sense of place, and the effect of outdoor activity participation on body image.
Denise initiated trauma informed leadership highlighting the relevance of social, emotional, and spiritual safety in group dynamics and risk management, first working with women recovering from abuse in the early 1980s. She has developed programs to strengthen bonding between parents/caregivers and children, a leadership program for women felons, and an award-winning leadership training and apprenticing program for women, opening the door to outdoor leadership to many women.
Denise received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award from Ferris State University for her efforts around wellness for underserved groups in Michigan. Along with over 100 articles and book chapters, books Denise has authored or edited include Health and natural landscapes: Concepts and applications, Experiential education theory and practice, Maternal thinking: Gifts, the mother’s body, and Earth, and the Palgrave international handbook on women and outdoor learning.
Dr. Mitten’s educational background includes University of Washington, Yale University, and University of Minnesota. Using her expertise in counseling (MS) and parent education, complementary medicine, adventure trip leading, and ecology Dr. Mitten helps clients discover the tools and skills they need to continue passionate, high-quality work that positively contributes to our global community.
Maurie Lung, PhD, LMHC, LMFT
Maurie Lung, PhD, LMHC, LMFT, is a licensed mental health counselor and a licensed marriage family therapist in both California and Florida. She integrates almost 30 years of experience in recreation, education, psychology, and evaluation to provide therapeutic services in a community-based organization she founded, and is currently the Executive Director, Life Adventures Counseling.
She has a BS in Park and Recreation Administration, focusing on outdoor recreation and environmental education, an MA in Counseling, focusing on experiential therapy, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology, focusing on the cultural relevance of the use of nature and adventure for positive life skill acquisition.
Life Adventures Counseling, provides nature-based and adventure-based services (individuals, couples, groups, families as well as retreats and training programs) for clients as young as three up to clients in their 90’s! The growth and change she witnesses for youth, families, and adults through the process of connecting with nature and engaging in adventure continues to amaze her, and truly embraces the power of playful experience.
Life Adventures is also a training program for practitioners and she regularly integrates interns into programming and has a branch, Life Adventures For All, that provides consultation to adventure-based and nature-based programs. Additionally, Maurie is the Director of Prescott College’s Adventure-based/Nature-based Counseling certificates and EDS degree program. She currently serves on the AEE Council of Accreditation, and the Certified Clinical Adventure Therapist Council.
She has co-authored three books about adventure therapy as well as a variety of articles and workshops. In her free time she enjoys adventure days with her 10 year old son and her triplet 8 year olds.
Dr. Christine Lynn Norton, Ph.D
Dr. Christine Lynn Norton received her Ph.D. in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. She has a Master of Arts in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and a Master of Science in Experiential Education from Minnesota State University-Mankato. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Board Approved Supervisor in the State of Texas. She is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and Certified Experiential Therapist.
Dr. Norton has over 20 years of experience working with youth and young adults in a variety of settings including therapeutic wilderness programs, juvenile justice, schools, mentoring and campus support programs. She has taught as adjunct faculty at The University of Denver, Prescott College, and Naropa University. Her areas of practice and research interest and expertise are in positive youth development; innovative interventions in child and adolescent mental health; adventure therapy; outdoor behavioral healthcare; nature and wellbeing; experiential education; foster care support in higher education; and international social work.
Dr. Norton is a Research Scientist with the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center and she helped launch Foster Care Alumni Creating Educational Success (FACES) at Texas State. She is the Foster Care Liaison Officer to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and is the founder of the Foster Care Adventure Therapy Network, an international group of programs and practitioners who utilize adventure therapy with current and former foster care youth and young adults.
Dr. Norton also has over 35 peer-reviewed journal articles, has edited three books, and has authored over ten book chapters, and is a leading social work scholar who has presented her research nationally and internationally. She is active in international education and is also a Fulbright Scholar, having taught adventure therapy in the Department of Civic Education and Leadership at National Taiwan Normal University.
Associate Professor, Social Work
Research Scientist, Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center
FACES/Foster Care Liaison Officer
Texas State University
Lynette Spencer, LCSW
Lynette Spencer, LCSW, has a Master of Science in Social Work from Aurora University in 1992 and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Illinois. Lynette has worked in a variety of social work settings including outpatient counseling, partial behavioral health hospitalization, acute inpatient hospitalization, and emergency department psychiatric crisis intervention, serving ages from four to ninety-four.
After two decades in hospital and office-based practices, Lynette decided it was time to take her work to where she felt best–outside. Lynette founded Adventure Works in 2010 and has served as the executive director since. Adventure Works is the first nonprofit community-based Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) organization to achieve OBH accreditation by the Association of Experiential Education (AEE).
Utilizing the natural environment and adventure therapy, Adventure Works provides mental health and positive youth development services to youth and their families regardless of ability to pay. The programs not only challenge youth to be active in nature, their engagement in their own process was dramatically improved as compared to being in the office.
Lynette is also a founding partner of Action Consulting and Therapy, an experiential private practice in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. She co-founded the practice in 2015 and specializes in organizational development and culture building, using experiential methods and the outdoor environment whenever possible.
Lynette thrives on being involved in her community. Local and national servant leadership positions include fundraising and program planning for the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership, serving as chairperson for the Trauma Informed Committee of the DeKalb County Juvenile Justice Council, past treasurer and secretary for the Therapeutic Adventure Professionals Group (TAPG) of AEE, and in February 2020 Lynette will become the first female chairperson of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council, for which she served as an executive officer for the past four years. Active membership in AEE and the OBH Council have the added benefit of traveling to new places for conferences; Lynette always adds time beyond her work schedule to explore her surroundings. Lynette’s professional schedule is balanced by her family, morning hikes in local preserves, and memories of her most recent adventure, when she and her husband backpacked 68 miles in three days along Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England.