Derek Barber


Derek Barber is a health and fitness coach and an entrepreneur/consultant in the wellness industry. He owns a private practice in the Pacific Northwest called Adventure Athletics, co-founded the interdisciplinary medical-fitness facility Cascadia Wellness Collective, is an advisory board member to the land-based center The Novalis Project, and is co-creating an outdoor adventure program for youth. He is passionately devoted to the application of ecological principles via the bioregionalism movement.

PRESENTATION: Wilderness Therapy: Undomesticating the Human Animal

The ancestral health movement has excelled at bringing to light the many diseases of civilization and offering a myriad of “natural” solutions but are we still just chasing symptoms? In this conversation, we will explore how the recent surge in mental illnesses are more than diseases of civilization, but are signals that may suggest civilization itself is a dose-dependant problem. Are modern wilderness and land-based therapies just rediscoveries of the innate wisdom of our ancestors who deeply knew the importance of cultivating connection with self, others, nature and animals? In addition to a research review, Derek will share his personal stories of rites of passage, initiation, and outdoor skills, elucidating how these provide the ultimate home-coming.


  • learn the exact mechanisms by which nature is therapeutic
  • delineate the difference between cathartic solitude and isolation leading to “rough initiations”
  • discover the issues with civilization that make wilderness therapy necessary
  • how to properly “reintegrate” after an immersive backcountry experience
  • what actionable steps to take in order to thrive in the modern milieu