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Written by Aleksandra. K | Provisional Psychologist, PsychPhys™

Ecotherapy, also known as Green Therapy or Nature Therapy, is the applied practice of the relatively new field in psychology – Eco Psychology, which was developed by Theodore Roszak.

We could say that Eco Psychology is the study of the mind in relation to the natural world.  In practical terms we might say that eco-psychotherapy begins when we take the psychology session out of its traditional context of a private room, and into nature – a park, forest, or other wilderness area.

Ecotherapy is based on the idea that people are impacted by and connected to the natural environment. A growing amount of research highlights the positive benefits of connecting with nature. While first-hand contact with nature has a lot of benefits, individuals need not spend time in a green environment to experience the positive effects of the natural world.

Eco-therapists not only focus on human-to-human relationships like traditional therapists, they also delve into the relationships between humans and the environment.

Eco-psychology seeks to explore and understand the ways in which mind and nature are related, and perhaps to offer people a new vision of itself – one that connects the human individual and mind within nature. For instance, some research postulates that children who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) display fewer symptoms after spending time in a green environment than when they spend time in non-green outdoor or indoors environments. The presence of plants and flowers within the workplace can positively affect creativity, productivity, and flexible problem solving, while the presence of animals may reduce agitation and aggression among children and those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

In several fields of human venture we are waking up to a more ecological perspective. Additionally, there are a growing number of practices that draw upon the recognition that it is healthy for humans to spend time with and connect to  nature.

Some of these practices include things like:

  1. Adventure therapy
  2. Bird-watching
  3. Forest bathing
  4. Mindfulness Based Nature Therapy and Medication (in this approach the session can be conducted walking, sitting, or both.)
  5. Walk and Talk Therapy (When the psychologist and client spend the session outside walking in natural surroundings for the purpose of enhancing therapy goals).