Nigel Magowan Presents His Research into the Potential Effectiveness of Ecotherapy as a Treatment for Anxiety, at the 2013 UKCP Research Conference

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Nigel Magowan Presents His Research into the Potential Effectiveness of Ecotherapy as a Treatment for Anxiety, at the 4th UKCP Annual Research Conference at Regents University in London.

On Saturday 22nd June 2013, Beeleaf Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy graduates Mike Shallcross, Julie Sale, Helen Lee and myself, Nigel Magowan, attended the 4th annual UKCP Research Conference 2013, held at Regents University, Regents Park, London.

There were approximately 130 people in attendance, and the focus of this years conference was on ‘Researching the client’s voice in psychotherapy and integrating the client’s voice in research’.  Both Helen and myself were presenting our respective research papers at the conference.  Mike and Julie had presented their research papers at the previous years conference in 2012.  The research papers had formed part of our study towards our Advanced Diplomas in Contemporary Psychotherapy.

public-speaking-phobia-microphone-blurry-audience-conference-speakerI presented my paper titled ‘The Effectiveness of Nature Awareness Exercises as a Therapeutic Intervention for Anxiety: A Hermeneutic Single-Case Efficacy Design Study’, a study into the potential benefits of Nature Awareness exercises as a treatment for anxiety disorders.  Nature Awareness exercises are used within my Ecotherapy workshops and one-to-one Ecotherapy sessions.

The total allotted time for each speaker was just 20 minutes, 15 minutes for the presentation and 5 minutes for questions, so it was quite a challenge to distil an entire dissertation into such a short amount of time.  As I waited for my turn to speak there were a few moments of mild anxiety, which quickly transformed into excitement and anticipation by the time it was my turn to present.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day, and it was wonderful to catch up again with my colleagues from Beeleaf.  I am eagerly looking forward to attending next years conference.

Ecotherapy Research Overview

I am an accredited Contemporary Psychotherapist, who as well as offering traditional consulting room based therapy sessions, also offer Ecotherapy in the form of outdoor workshops and 1-2-1 sessions.

Ecotherapy Wilderness Therapy Workshop in Wales UK

Ecotherapy is a term originally coined by Clinebell, a collective term for any therapy that utilises a connection with the natural world as part of the therapeutic process.  Some of the better known ecotherapies are Equine Assisted Therapy, Pet Assisted Therapy, Horticultural therapy, Animal-assisted therapy and Wilderness Therapy.

Nature awareness exercises and games have become very popular with many bushcraft and tracking schools in the UK as a fun way for trainees to expand their awareness of nature, and develop their sensory skills. The nature-awareness exercises are presented as a series of nature-based games, sensory and awareness exercises, primitive skills, mindfulness, meditations, solo reflective time, and group sharing. They are intended to be fun, and to inspire a playful child-like sense of wonder towards nature, whilst at the same time gently challenging the participants to explore beyond their existing preconceptions and limitations. Natural Awareness Therapy (created by Geoffrey McMullan) is a base-camp based Wilderness Therapy which adds a therapeutic intent to the existing nature-awareness exercises and games.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterised by chronic feelings of excessive worry about a variety of topics.  Individuals can often feel tense and on edge.  The worrying feelings are often accompanied by physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, tension, shaking, and elevated blood pressure.

Hermeneutic Single Case Efficacy Design (HSCED) is a systematic case study research methodology for evaluating the efficacy of therapy in a single case.  It uses a cross examination of a variety of quantitative and qualitative data and creates arguments both for and against the case.

A rich case record was collated from the various data sources.  Affirmative and sceptic briefs and rebuttals were created and then adjudicated by an independent judge.  The external judge who evaluated the data felt that the client changed considerably, and that the nature awareness exercises contributed substantially to those changes.


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Nigel Magowan
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