Ecotherapy is a therapy modality that brings clients close with nature as a way to promote resilience and healing. For example, do you ever find yourself less anxious after taking care of your houseplants? Or does hiking make you forget any feelings of sadness? You might have unknowingly participated in a type of Ecotherapy. Ecotherapy is a therapy modality that brings clients close with nature as a way of promoting resilience and healing.
What is Ecotherapy?
In Ecotherapy, a client and a therapist work together to circumspect the concept that nature is a way to further mental health. Eco-psychology is a relatively new field of psychology. It’s based on ideas of interconnectedness between humans and nature and the reciprocity that both face when it comes to health. Eco-therapists encourage clients to engage with nature in a wide variety of ways, with the goals to decrease stress, build confidence, and establish a sense of inner peace.
Ecotherapy is an umbrella term for many different therapeutic techniques, including:
Eco-therapy relies on the evidence behind nature’s de-stressing impact on humans. With a lowered stress level, Eco-therapists can help clients think through conflicts, come up with new self-care practices, or process through painful emotions together.
What happens in an Ecotherapy session?
There are many styles of Ecotherapy. Which one an Ecotherapist uses in a session depends on the client’s needs, the accessibility and type of nature, and the amount of time allotted for a session. Ecotherapy may look like:
- Taking your session while walking with your therapist outside
- Completing a mindfulness meditation with your therapist in a nature spot
- Interacting with nature, such as paddle boarding, rafting, climbing or digging with your therapist’s guidance
- Contributing to a community garden with your therapist
Eco-therapists use nature as a way to prompt their clients into introspection and reflection. While clients and Eco-therapists engage with the outdoors, Eco-therapists may ask about how they’re feeling, what thoughts are happening, and how they feel physically. Eco-therapists might also assign their clients homework (i.e. forest-bathe at least once during the week) and encourage them to continue to turn to nature for relaxation and a sense of nurturing.
What can Ecotherapy help with?
Eco-therapy can help with many mental health conditions. It’s a therapy approach that asks clients to slow down and become more mindful – all in the relaxing atmosphere of nature. For this reason, clients who experience high stress levels, relationship conflict, anxiety, feelings of disconnection, or those who would like to learn more about themselves might benefit from Eco-therapy.
It’s important to work with a therapist who is trained in Ecotherapy when engaging in this type of therapy. Trained Ecotherapists will know how best to connect you to nature activities and how to facilitate your personal growth as a part of being in nature.