Ecotherapy

Caught up in the demands of modern life, we can all-too-easily find ourselves estranged from the embodied reality of human being and alienated from our source of life, the earth. By acknowledging our part in a greater whole, we are more able to accept our mortal limitations and rediscover our primary bond with our environment; our natural home.

The practice of ecotherapy combines the therapeutic support of conventional psychotherapy with the benefits of connecting with the rest of nature. Ecotherapy encourages people to develop greater awareness of their own nature, their relationships with each other and the environment. If 'ecology' is concerned with the interrelationships of living systems and 'therapy' seeks to bring unrealized and dis-integrated aspects of our being into awareness, then ecotherapy is concerned with how we locate ourselves in this more-than-human universe.

Spending time outside means we experience ourselves in a wider and more systemic context. We soon begin to question the tacit assumptions that humans are separate from nature and rediscover our place in an ecology of diversity. Remembering our bonds to the earth can begin the healing of often painful splits from our physical and emotional bodies and bring relief to repetitive cycles of anxious thinking

From the wonder of a sunrise to the silent cathedral of a forest, the simple practice of paying attention to the life within and all around us brings us to value to our own existence a little bit more. Making time to be fully present each day helps each of us to engage the right hemisphere of our brains connecting to a more inclusive sense of existence and life-affirming consciousness. Such presence represents a spiritual state of being. 

Research* has shown that spending time outside in green spaces offers distinct mental health benefits, particularly with reducing depression, stress and anxiety:

  • A study by Mind showed that walking in nature reduced depression for 71% of participants as compared to the 45% reported from walking in a shopping mall
  • Being outside increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us to feel calm and relaxed.
    Contact with nature our reduces our stress levels within minutes. Blood pressure and heart rate is lowered, stress hormones and cortisol are reduced, and our metabolism slows.
  • Improved mood and emotional state in relation to self-reported anger, fatigue, anxiety, sadness
  • Increased self-esteem, confidence, social inclusion, motivation, meaningful activity, energy

(*eg Mind 2007, Mind 2013, Natural England 2016, Faculty of Public Health Briefing Statement 2010, DEFRA Evidence Statement 2017)