What is Ecotherapy?
Simply put, ecotherapy is an umbrella term for the use of nature-based approaches to facilitate wellness, growth, and healing. With its roots in the field of ecopsychology, ecotherapists work from a belief that people are an interconnected, interdependent part of nature, and that disconnection from nature leads to a wide variety of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual difficulties.
What is Clinical Ecotherapy?
Clinical ecotherapy allows clinicians a framework in which to offer nature-based therapies to clients. Decades of research clearly demonstrates the benefits of nature on mental health and well-being. Integrating nature as a co-therapist into the therapeutic process allows clinicians unique and holistic opportunities for exploring insight, growth, and healing.
How Does Ecotherapy Work?
Ecotherapy is an evolving and versatile field, and ecotherapists work from a wide variety of approaches. Some ecotherapists work with people solely in nature, while others integrate nature into other approaches, such as art therapy, mindfulness practices, dance movement therapy, or writing-based therapies. Ecotherapy works well with individuals, families, couples, and groups of all ages and can be adapted to people with mobility differences and physical health challenges. Common ecotherapy approaches include working with plants and gardens, participating in walks or hikes, and engaging in mindfulness in nature practices.
What Are Some of the Benefits of Ecotherapy?
A rapidly growing body of research continues to demonstrate a wide variety of physical, mental and emotional, and spiritual benefits to spending time with nature. Benefits include: reduced stress and increased relaxation; reduced depression and anxiety symptoms; decreased loneliness; improvement of cognition in elders; preventative effect on cancer, in part by increased NK cell activity and number; reduced ADHD symptoms in children; improvement in memory span and mood; and better regulation of cortisol levels and circadian rhythm.