“A long established and growing body of research, particularly in the area of environmental psychology, has demonstrated the therapeutic benefits of contact with nature. It can reduce levels of stress, enhance people’s state of mind and improve parasympathetic nervous system functions. Being in contact with nature increases physical health, promotes more health-oriented behaviours, and reduces the length of time patients stay in hospital ... If you want to enhance self-concept, self-esteem, and self-confidence, facilitate treatment of the mentally ill, or improve family relationships, employing nature is a potent therapeutic intervention. Nature guided therapy is about putting these demonstrated benefits into therapeutic practice, in ways that will enhance the achievement of the person’s therapeutic goal.”
-George W. Burns, Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind
There is a large body of evidence to support the positive effects of nature-immersion on human well-being. The amount of time that we spend in nature and the quality of our nature-connection is a significant determinant for the quality of our health and development. The incorporation of nature into therapeutic practice enhances the process.
“Ecotherapy is an umbrella term for nature-based methods of physical and psychological healing, ecotherapy represents a new form of psychotherapy that acknowledges the vital role of nature and addresses the human nature relationship. It takes into account the latest scientific understandings of our universe and the deepest indigenous wisdom. This perspective addresses the critical fact that people are intimately connected with, embedded in, and inseparable from the rest of nature. Grasping this fact shifts our understanding of how to heal the human psyche within, and earth itself.”
-Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist, Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind
Some of the benefits of ecotherapy include:
Tailoring nature-based practices and interventions requires fine attunement to the unique need of each client and can come in many different forms, including psycho-education, sensory awareness practices, the transition of therapy to the outdoors and the “prescription” of nature-based assignments.
- Ecotherapy methods are cost-effective and accessible to a diverse demographic
- The inclusion of nature in the therapeutic relationship empowers the client and provides them with cognitive and emotional resources.
- Ecotherapy allows the client to access resources independent of the therapeutic “dyad”, and therefore becomes less reliant on the therapist.
- Nature immersion is proven to positively enhance human health physically, cognitively and psychologically
- The beneficial outcomes of ecotherapy are bi-directional, as they promote a symbiotic relationship between humans and Nature