The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.

-John Muir

The basis for ecopsychology and ecotherapy is that we have lost some of our health and well being as our disconnection from the natural environment has grown. Ecotherapy seeks to restore this connection by helping people relate to the natural world in a meaningful way, thereby gaining back some of their own natural health and vitality.

Ecotherapy or nature-based counselling can take many different forms. A basic premise is “taking therapy outside”, however, sessions can in fact occur either outdoors or indoors. Sometimes, you are given homework outside of your regular sessions that may have to do with establishing your relationship to a place in nature, and observing and recording the shifts this creates for you. Other times, we might simply process a vivid dream you had about a wild animal or a landscape. Sessions held outside add to the richness of the work in a number of ways:

  • simply being in contact with nature promotes well being and relaxation that in turn inspires us, and makes us more receptive to deeper insights as well as shifts in our being
  • observing and reflecting on the processes and elements of nature provides powerful metaphors for our lives
  • contact with nature offers us a larger perspective, in which we focus on that which is bigger than ourselves
  • being outside in nature allows for a spiritual connection that can rekindle meaning and value in our lives
  • when we reconnect with and rediscover a sense of place, it in turn provides a sense of belonging
  • the raw energies within the natural world are in and of themselves very powerful, and are a powerful ally to healing

An overarching goal of a nature-based approach to therapy, however, is that eventually we go beyond our own individual healing to ask what nature needs of us, at a time of living when all nature is so imperiled. So if you choose to do some work within this approach, don’t be surprised if eventually I ask you what you might do to turn some of your loving attention back toward the earth.