Accreditation

Accreditation for:

Adventure & Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Programs


What is Accreditation?

After a rapid increase in the number of experiential programs in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the need for standards of program quality, professional behavior, and appropriate risk management became imperative. In 1994, the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) responded to that need by developing the most comprehensive standards for common practices in the industry, becoming the nation's first recognized accreditation process focusing on experiential adventure programming. Since then, the AEE Accreditation Programs standards-based evaluation process by objective, independent reviewers have become the industry-accepted level of professional evaluation for experiential and adventure programs.

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Attaining accredited status through the AEE Accreditation Program is solid evidence of an organization’s commitment to quality and safety, belief in professional standards, and allocation of resources toward continued excellence and improvement. Programs that achieve AEE Accredited status can be confident that they meet or exceed recognized industry standards.

Recorded Webinar on AEE Accreditation 

 

"Gaining accreditation has been a valuable tool to help inform stakeholders we strive to be a high quality organization... It has also acted as a springboard for further innovation and growth in course design and programming excellence. It has also served as a magnet that continues to attract great educators and new business opportunities to us. So for other organizations we say ‘go for it’!"

- Outward Bound Hong Kong, Accredited by AEE since 2011


In 2013 the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council invited AEE to jointly embark upon the expansion of AEE’s existing standards to better reflect the field of wilderness therapy’s current practices with a goal if having AEE become an indendent accreditor for these types of programs. This resulted in the creation of a detailed set of ethical, risk management, and treatment standards created by longstanding leaders in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare(OBH), adventure therapy, and wilderness programming. OBH programming can be defined as the prescriptive use of wilderness experiences by licensed mental health professionals to meet the therapeutic needs of clients as well as a strong ethic of care and support throughout the therapeutic experience.


Through the AEE Accreditation Program, the public is served by:

  1. a ready identification of quality programs from which to choose.
  2. an objective, independent source of information about those programs.
  3. a clear indication of the standards by which those programs operate.

The profession of experiential education is served through:

  1. a safeguard of the reputation of the field.
  2. elevating the practices of the field.
  3. self-governance.
  4. avenues for continuing education and professional development.

Services to the organizations pursuing AEE accreditation are many and include:

  1. providing leadership within the profession through utilizing accepted industry standards.
  2. improving the quality, performance, and risk management practices of programs with continuing education.
  3. increasing the ability to attract financial and human resources through the recognition of AEE accreditation.
  4. programs that have gone through the AEE Accreditation process have distinguished themselves in the growing field of experiential education. At the time of the accreditation review, programs must document and display compliance with the standards for adventure programs in experiential education. AEE accredits a wide variety of adventure programs and organizations, including wilderness adventure programs, colleges and university outdoor programs, K-12 school programs, outdoor behavioral healthcare, youth programs, and corporate team building and training programs.
  5. attaining accredited status through the AEE Accreditation Program is evidence of an organization's commitment to quality, belief in professional standards, and allocation of resources towards continuous improvement.

Why Get Accredited?

When you achieve AEE Accreditation, you can have confidence that your program meets or exceeds industry standards. Accredited organizations report that this organizational development opportunity helped them evolve many areas of their organization. AEE works continuously with experts in adventure programming and outdoor behavioral healthcare to set the standards for risk management, safety, program success, and sound practices. Please contact the Director of Accreditations & Certifications, Steve Pace, at steve@aee.org for more information.

"The AEE Accreditation Process is a journey toward organizational development and improvement.  During this journey, an organization seeking accreditation systematically addresses each accreditation standard and develops methods that fit its unique mission to meet these standards. At the end of the process, an accredited organization can have confidence that their program meets or exceeds the commonly accepted practices of our field. The public is served by being able to identify which programs have gone through this rigorous process facilitated by an objective and independent association." -Steve Pace, AEE Director of Accreditations & Certifications


Who Should Get Accredited?

AEE accredits a wide variety of adventure programs and organizations, including wilderness adventure programs, colleges and university outdoor programs, K-12 school programs, outdoor behavioral healthcare, youth programs, and corporate team building and training programs. See our current list of Accredited programs here

If you've ever wondered if your organization is doing enough, is tight enough, or is safe enough, going through the process will tell you and forces you to fix, change, maintain, etc. all of your practices. It is truly an exercise in making your organization the absolute best it could be.” -Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center