Ecotherapy / Nature Therapy
Theodore Roszak, developed a field called ecopsychology, Ecotherapy, or nature therapy or green therapy, is the applied practice of this emergent field. Here, it is assumed, although we dwell as individual in this society, but we are nothing but a part of the web of life, our psyches are not isolated or separate, rather is integrated with our environment.
What to expect?
Eastern philosophy had stated the benefits of being rooted to environment since ages. Being rooted to the environment not only helps us to ensure happiness with bare minimum but also teaches us the skill of utilizing the best of what is available to us. Ecotherapy is founded upon this specific idea that people are connected to and impacted by the natural environment. A growing body of research have highlighted the positive benefits of connecting with nature.The beneficial effects of nature result from both what people see and from what they experience through other senses.
How does it work?
To understand how ecotherapy works, we must take a note of the following:
- Meditating in Natural setting: This is also known as nature meditation and is conducted usually in a park, and is sometimes in a group. Members in the therapy might identify with something in the nature and hence develop a sense of oneness with it. This benefits by enhancing the feeling of inclusiveness leading to a better everyday living.
- Involvement in conservation activities: When one perceives oneself as a part of nature, the extended sense of self allows the individual to act in more empathetic way towards the environment. Individual naturally involves themselves in act of restoring the nature, with brings purpose in their life and satisfy their need to nurture, it may simultaneously help foster a sense of belonging and connectedness.
- Horticultural therapy: This particular therapy involves the activities of gardening in the therapy. The use of plants and garden-related activities can be utilized to promote well-being. This activity includes, digging of soil, planting saplings, watering them everyday, etc.
- Animal-assisted therapy: In animal-assisted therapy, or pet therapy one or more animals is introduced into the healing process, here also the psychological health is ensured by feelings of nurturance and belongingness .
- Physical exercise in a natural environment: Several physical activity including walking, jogging, cycling, or yoga can be done in a park. These types of activities are sometimes recommended for reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and anger.
When is it used?
Ecopsychology is informed by systems theory and enables an individual with the opportunity to explore and built their relationship with nature, an area that is not included in most other types of psychotherapy. It can be employed for dealing with neurotic problems which creeps in from emotional loneliness. It not only helps in symptoms reduction but also in ensuring general well being.
Role of therapist:
Ecotherapy is an umbrella term which encompasses different therapeutic procedures which actively involves environment in the treatment procedure. The therapist here is usually an instructor and an observer. Although some professionals teach and practice ecopsychology exclusively, most of the mental health practitioners incorporate aspects of ecotherapy into their existing practices as an adjunct.
MIND. (2007). Ecotherapy: The green agenda for mental health.
Scull, J. (2009). Tailoring nature therapy to the client. In L. Buzzell & C. Chalquist's (Eds.), Ecotherapy: Healing with nature in mind (pp. 140-148). San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club Books.
Chalquist, C. (2009). A look at the ecotherapy research evidence. Ecopsychology, 1(2), 64-74.
Clay, R. A. (2001). Green is good for you. Monitor on Psychology, 32(4).