David Scheinfeld is a doctoral student who’s using his research and practice as well as his “9-5” job at Outward Bound for Veterans to help returning service members and veterans adapt to life at home after military service. Outward Bound offers wilderness courses that draw on the healing benefits of teamwork and challenge experienced in a natural environment, with all of the participants working together toward a common objective.
How did you get involved with Outward Bound for Veterans?
My parents instilled a love of nature in me and showed me how it has the power to shift one’s perspective about the world. I had attended two Outward Bound courses in high school and those ignited my passion for the organization. I developed an even greater love of outdoor education while in college at the University of Puget Sound and then took a job as an instructor at Outward Bound in 2003 – I’ve been working with them in one capacity or another ever since.
What’s the work with Outward Bound for Veterans like?
Currently, I’m primarily instructing Outward Bound backpacking and rock climbing courses in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I’ve also been an instructor for a Florida Keys sailing course and a Boundary Waters canoeing course in Minnesota, as well as with Montana Outward Bound and North Carolina Outward Bound. Unfortunately, there are no Texas courses right now. Veterans from any state can apply for a course and if they’re accepted, Outward Bound for Veterans will pay for their airfare and all associated costs.
How is your doctoral work intersecting with what you’re doing at Outward Bound?
The majority of my time right now is spent at the Austin Veterans Health Administration completing my clinical internship for a Ph.D. in counseling psychology. With veterans’ posttraumatic stress (PTS) becoming a growing public health concern, my clinical passion is helping veterans address and reduce PTS. There are a large number of returning veterans who could benefit from mental health services but tend to underutilize them or drop out prematurely. To deal with this issue, it’s critical to look at alternative programs and interventions that will address their mental health concerns while also increasing their motivation to seek out mental health assistance. Outward Bound for Veterans, which is a therapeutic adventure intervention, is an alternative approach that’s shown a lot of promise. With Outward Bound, I’m an instructor as well as a researcher.
After you get your doctorate, what do you plan on doing?
It would be great to keep researching alternative and complementary mental healthcare approaches for veterans. Through Outward Bound for Veterans, I hope to work with veterans who are more resistant to traditional forms of therapy while also working as a therapist and researcher at the VA. I’d like to develop programming that uses therapeutic adventure as a complementary and alternative approach to traditional therapy– the therapeutic adventure component wouldn’t be a stand-alone experience, but rather a springboard to bolster veterans’ mental healthcare outcomes.
If you weren’t pursuing this particular area of study and career, what would you want to do?
I’d love to be drummer in a famous band … that didn’t travel too often.