Can you remember a time, maybe as a child, when you were completely immersed in your natural environment with nothing else to do or think about? Maybe in a forest, by a stream, on the beach? Do you recall this feeling of just being there, all senses activated, yet feeling calm, free and relaxed? Do you remember the sound of the birds or crickets, the scent of the humid forest floor or the feeling of warm sand or cold water on your feet?
Guess what, that was a form of “Ecotherapy”. A Connection to Nature that made you feel at home, connected to all the beings around you, safe and joyful at the same time, feeling yourself as an integral part of your “habitat”.
Really? But what exactly is Ecotherapy?
Very simply put Ecotherapy is an umbrella term for Nature Connection Approaches that support physical and mental healing.
We are living in times where we can see a large gap between frightening global threats to our environment and the lack of our actual connection to Nature. Modern lifestyles have brought with them time constraints, urbanisation, lack of opportunity and uncountable methods of distraction with Social Media and Technology at the forefront.
This disconnect weaves itself through all aspects of modern life including our daily food, our consumer habits, our leisure activities, our health and education and our overall lack of awareness of the interconnection of everything.
What we should be aware of, is that our need for Nature Connection is not optional, it is imprinted in our DNA. Not only that, when we realise that our “habitat” is under threat, we intrinsically know that our very own survival is in danger, even if it’s just subconsciously. This inbuilt awareness and the gap between the overwhelm of worrying global news and our actual Nature Connection is causing more and more physical and mental health challenges.
With the Climate Crisis gaining traction, we can see a sharp rise in environment-related mental health issues including eco-anxiety and eco-depression. These terms are not yet official pathological diagnoses, yet there is no denying their existence.
In 2021 an extensive study of 10.000 children and young people in 10 countries by The Lancet showed that 59% were extremely worried about the threats of Climate Change, while 84% (!!!) were at least moderately worried. That’s a really sad statistic don’t you think?
How can Ecotherapy help?
This is where Ecotherapy comes in. Most Ecotherapy modalities put equal importance on human and planetary health as they are based on the eco-psychological view that our psyche cannot be separated from our environment. Simply put: We can’t have healthy humans on a sick planet.
So many of us are in need of mental and physical healing. Ecotherapy is an invaluable addition to already existing professions such as counsellors, psychotherapists, meditation teachers, play therapists or educators for example. By integrating various forms of Nature Connection we address our inbuilt knowledge that we are Nature and as such have a desire to care for and protect our planet Earth.
Especially our children need support, assurance and Nature Connection as a priority not only for their mental and physical health but also for their education and overall development.
Examples of Ecotherapy Modalities include:
- Horticultural Therapy
- Forest Bathing
- Eco Art Therapy
- Animal Assisted Therapies
- Wilderness Experiences
- Nature Based Meditation and Visualisation
- Embodied Movement Approaches
- Activism and Conservation
- Nature Education
- Multi-Sensory Nature Immersion, both indoors and outdoors
- Spiritual Nature Rituals and Rites of Passage
- And more…
All of us are different and our needs and preferences vary greatly. The beauty of ecotherapy is the opportunity to offer and avail of individual, accessible and inclusive programs both indoors and outdoors. This makes it possible to offer this vital approach to people who might not be able to access Nature outdoors due to illness, trauma or other limitations.
If you would like to learn more about ecotherapy and the many ways we can integrate Nature into our personal and professional lives: The pioneering Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy Practitioner Training is now EVERGREEN for a trial period of six months at a greatly reduced training fee of €950 once off payment or instalments of 3 x €325. Registration is now open!
Also if you’d like some free Nature and Mandala Colouring resources for children, you can download them via this link.