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nature-based therapy

Nature-based therapy is a form of therapeutic practice that emphasizes the deep connection between individuals and the natural world with the purpose of improving mental health and overall well-being.

the benefits

The benefits of eco-therapy on mental health are numerous and well-documented. Here are some key advantages:

  1. Stress Reduction: Spending time in nature has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. Being surrounded by natural elements like trees, water, and fresh air can promote relaxation and calmness, leading to a decrease in stress and anxiety levels.

  2. Improved Mood: Interacting with nature can enhance mood and increase feelings of happiness and well-being. Exposure to sunlight and natural landscapes has been linked to the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of contentment and happiness.

  3. Enhanced Cognitive Function: Spending time in natural environments has been associated with improved cognitive function, including better concentration, memory, and attention span. Nature walks and outdoor activities stimulate the brain and help alleviate mental fatigue.

  4. Increased Physical Activity: Engaging in outdoor activities as part of eco-therapy encourages physical movement. Activities such as hiking, gardening, or even simply walking in nature provide opportunities for gentle exercise that can boost mood and energy levels.

  5. Connection: Participating in eco-therapy activities can create a sense of belonging to one's environment, community, and self.

  6. Mindfulness and Reflection: Nature offers a peaceful and serene environment that encourages mindfulness and introspection. Immersing oneself in natural surroundings promotes a sense of presence and awareness, allowing individuals to reflect on their thoughts and emotions in a tranquil setting.

  7. Nature acts as a metaphorical canvas for clients and clinicians to explore together. Challenging us to seek out deeper meaning in our experiences, no matter how difficult they may be. 

Overall, nature-based therapy provides a holistic lense in which to view mental health treatment by harnessing the healing power of nature to promote emotional well-being, reduce stress, and enhance overall quality of life. Incorporating regular exposure to natural environments into one's lifestyle can be a valuable complement to traditional therapeutic approaches and contribute to long-term mental health maintenance.

cultural and historical significance

Humans have had an ever evolving relationship with the natural world throughout history. We can find many examples of how nature and wellness have been coupled throughout cultures around the world.

  1. Shinrin-yoku - Japan: Translated as "forest bathing" or "taking in the forest atmosphere," Shinrin-yoku is a Japanese practice that involves immersing oneself in nature and mindfully experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of the forest. It has gained recognition for its stress-reducing and rejuvenating effects on mental and physical well-being.

  2. Friluftsliv - Scandinavia: Originating from Norway and popular throughout Scandinavia, friluftsliv translates to "open-air living" and emphasizes spending time outdoors, often in natural settings like forests, mountains, or coastal areas. It embodies a holistic approach to connecting with nature for relaxation, recreation, and personal growth.

  3. Ecotherapy in Indigenous Cultures: Many indigenous cultures worldwide have traditional healing practices that involve a deep connection to the land and natural environment. Varying Native American cultures incorporate nature-based rituals, ceremonies, and storytelling as forms of healing and spiritual connection with the Earth.

  4. Nature-Based Healing Practices in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): Traditional Chinese Medicine recognizes the therapeutic benefits of nature and incorporates practices such as qigong (a mind-body practice involving movement, meditation, and breathwork), herbal medicine derived from plants, and acupuncture, which is often performed outdoors to align with natural energies.

While these practices may not always be explicitly labeled the same ways, they reflect a cultural understanding of the healing power of nature and the importance of maintaining a harmonious relationship with the natural world for overall well-being.

Forest Trees

what to expect

After completing a new client intake, you and your therapist will determine if outdoor nature-based sessions are right for your therapeutic goals. Some clients opt to participate in nature-based session in our office or virtually as an alternative to meeting outside. It is important to us that your preferences and goals are at the center of our collaboration with you. If you decide to participate in outdoor nature-based therapy, you and your therapist will come up with a meeting place. Some session may involve walking while others may consist of finding a place to sit. This process is purposefully designed for your needs. 

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