Modern society has evolved at a rapid rate since industrialization and continuing with the technology boom of the turn of the century. It is an interesting time to be a human being with so many modern amenities that make life less complicated. However, we can all attest to life being just as, if not more, complicated than before. Therapy helps address these complications of the modern-day world.
But what about getting back in touch with our roots? Nature Therapy or Ecotherapy hopes to do just that. Ecotherapy stems from system theory, which examines not just the person, but the systems we exist in as a whole. We are often so busy existing in our societal bubbles, it’s easy to neglect that inherent connection that humans have with nature.
The core concept of ecotherapy is to shine a light on the inherent self-regulation that the earth is capable of. Nature therapy emphasizes the inherent connection that people have with the earth and losing that connection can be harmful to our wellbeing. A strong body of research suggests that exposure to nature can reduce feelings of anger, depression and anxiety.
Ecotherapy is a nature-based approach to healing that can be used with a therapist in natural settings or through engaging the environment independently. This doesn’t mean you have to go on long hikes for hours. Even exposure to nature and green spaces through windows are beneficial to your mood.
Below are some other approaches to nature therapy.
Forest Bathing: Not just your walk in the park. Forest bathing is a concept that emerged from Japan called shinrun-yoku. Forest Bathing asks you to engage with your five senses as you spend time immersed in nature. Much like meditation, you will emphasize mindfulness as you move through the forest.
Animal Assisted Therapy: It’s no secret that being around animals is stress relieving. Humans have an amazing ability to connect with many different species of animals. They provide a nonjudgmental space and remind us of our own self-worth as well as comfort and safety.
Gardening/Farming: Tending to your own houseplants, yard or garden is a simple way to incorporating nature into your life. Gardening has the added reward of producing food you can eat or donate. Getting involved with community gardening can have the additional positive aspects of being a social activity as well.
Incorporating nature into your life has numerous benefits of increased mindfulness, improved well-being, and benefits for the nervous system. Ask your therapist if you would like to include nature as a part of your healing process.
Melanie Hanson is a student intern at Cypress Wellness Center working towards an LMHC licensure through a Master of Education in Counseling and Human Development at Lindsey Wilson College. She is also studying Acceptance and Commitment therapy and has an interest in narrative, existential, and dialectical behavioral (DBT) therapy. Melanie is also interested in attachment theory and the role this can have on your narrative. She believes that everyone has a unique story that they are the author of. Melanie is happy to help people revise their story for a more positive and accepting narrative.