Ecotherapy / Wilderness Therapy
Inner Changes provides high quality outdoor nature-based personal development for private individuals, organisations and corporate groups, in the form of one-to-one sessions, workshops, retreats, and bespoke events. Do please take some time to explore the website. If you have any questions, or you would like to book, simply call 0161 881 4333 or email me
What is ecotherapy?
Ecotherapy is an collective term for a whole variety of nature-based psychotherapies, counselling and coaching practices which utilise an experiential connection with nature as a major part of the therapeutic and coaching process. Wilderness Therapy, Adventure Therapy, Horticultural Therapy, Equine Assisted Therapy and Natural Awareness Therapy are all examples of nature-based therapies that come under the umbrella term of Ecotherapy. An ever-expanding volume of scientific research now clearly supports the benefits of nature and ecotherapies.
Ecotherapy is a relatively new field of therapy, but one which has many ancient roots, and as such, it draws its ideas from both modern and ancients practices. Unlike us, our ancestors would have seen little or no separation between themselves and the natural world they lived in. Many native cultures today still live in a harmonious relationship with nature, interacting with nature’s rhythms, to sustain and heal, physically, mentally and spiritually. In native cultures, the shaman would in effect be the equivalent of our modern doctor, counsellor and psychotherapist. The nature-based healing practices of many native cultures are now being extensively researched and integrated with modern therapeutic practices under the umbrella term of ‘ecotherapy.’ It is a selection of these practices in the form of fun and enlightening outdoor games and exercises that will be used during my workshops and one-to-one nature based therapy and coaching sessions. Ecotherapy may be used entirely on its own, or as a powerful compliment to more mainstream therapeutic models.
Why do we need nature-based therapy?
Western society has become more and more industrialised and urbanised. People in industrialised nations now spend more than 90% of their lives indoors. Our time spent outside, surrounded by nature, is estimated at only 1% – 5%. As a modern society we have become increasingly disconnected from the natural world.
For millennia we have existed in a very close relationship with the natural world, and have been intrinsically connected to the rhythms of our natural environment, from our water and food, to the changing of the seasons. Human evolution has been so closely intertwined with our environment, that our need for a relationship with nature must reside in our very genes. Our genetic make-up has barely changed over the last 10000 years: an almost insignificant change of 0.005%. Therefore it would seem that despite our modern society and technological advancements, we are still genetically hard-wired to need to co-exist in close relationship with the natural environment. As humans we seem to have an innate need to be close to nature and living things. We seem drawn, almost unconsciously, to activities which involve the natural environment. Research suggests human identity, emotional well-being, and personal fulfilment depend on our relationship with nature. Most people are already aware of the beneficial psychological effects of simply being on a beach, paddling in a stream, or walking in a forest or the mountains. I’m sure it is no accident that we are drawn to areas of natural beauty when taking our holidays. The human need for nature is not just linked to use of its resources but it also has an influence on our emotional state, thought processes and even spiritual well-being. Many researchers now believe that conflicts can arise between our modern society’s disconnection from the natural world and our in-built need to relate to it, creating a series of internal mental conflicts, which can give rise to emotional, behavioural and addictive problems. Given our seemingly in-built requirement for interaction with the natural world for our physical and mental well-being, it would appear that there is a strong need for us to finds ways of re-integrating nature back into our lives, so that we can redress the balance.
Mankind’s use of nature to enhance well-being, physically, mentally and spritually, has been around probably as long as humans have existed. It is only in more recent times, largely due to industrialisation and urbanisation, that man has become more and more disconnected and isolated from the natural world. In our modern society, that in-built need for relationship with nature has become disrupted, leaving us unbalanced and open to a variety of mental and emotional problems. Research has shown that just spending time outdoors in green space can have significant benefits on your mental well-being. This can be as simple as spending some time gardening, or sitting in your local park, or spending quality time with a pet, or going for a walk in the countryside. Ecotherapies such as Wilderness Therapy, Pet-Assisted Therapy, Equine-Assisted Therapy, Nature Awareness, Adventure Therapy, Green Therapy, Horticultural Therapy and Walking Therapy, all take this concept much further by actively utilising a connection with nature as part of the therapeutic process to enhance your psychological and spiritual health and well-being.
Ecotherapy and Traditional Talking Therapies
Compared to many traditional talking therapies, ecotherapy is often focused much more on experiential learning. Participants learn and change through engagement and immersing themselves in the environment and activities, as well as by talking about and sharing their insights and experiences. Because of this change can often occur without the lengthy discussion often associated with many talking therapies. The aim is to help you to…
- challenge your perceived limitations and unhelpful thought patterns, and develop greater awareness of your own strengths, through the use of the natural environment and challenging nature-based activities.
- develop a deeper understanding of how you relate to others, yourself, and your life, by reflecting on any symbolic or metaphorical relationships between the nature-based activities and your own life
- process your new understandings and learnings through sharing thoughts and reflections in a relaxed, safe, constructive, supportive, non-judgemental and respectful environment
- integrate your new learnings and positive resources so that they become available in your everyday life
Just some of the benefits reported by previous participants:
- Building trust, both in yourself and others
- Promoting confidence and self-esteem
- Lifting mood and reduce depression
- Reduction of anxiety and stress
- Helping to deal with anger
- Enhanced motivation
- Promotion of respect for oneself, others and nature
- Improvement in communication skills
- Improvement in psychological and spiritual health and well-being
- Promotion of team building and relationship building skills
- Learning to be in the here and now
- Connecting to a sense of wonder
- Putting your life into perspective
- Encouraging individuals to take responsibilityfor their own actions
- Developing independence and creativity
- Improved problem solving and life skills
- Learning that you can and do achieve things you never thought possible
Who might ecotherapy be suitable for?
- like the outdoors
- have an interest in nature
- are perhaps interested in bushcraft skills
- have an interest in environmental issues
- enjoy camping / walking / biking / climbing / other outdoor activities
- want to learn to feel more relaxed, balanced and centered
- perhaps wish to develop more awareness of their thoughts and behaviours
- need to develop trust and belief in themselves or others
- would like to learn to change how they relate to nature, themselves and others
- would like to develop their natural intuition / listen to their heart / gut instinct
- want to develop a connection with the spirit of nature (spirit in a non religious sense)
- already feel a deep connection with the sprit of nature
- maybe follow a nature-based spiritual path (druidry, pagan or shaman)
- wouldn’t normally feel comfortable visiting a counsellor
- prefer to learn by doing and being
- want to try something different
The approach is highly experiential and integrates elements of different ecotherapies with more traditional therapies. It including Natural Awareness Therapy, Nature Awareness, Wilderness Therapy, Contemporary Psychotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming(NLP), Self Relations Psychotherapy, Counselling, Ericksonian Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness, Gestalt Therapy, Mind-body practices, Shamanism, and Life Coaching. I’m sure you can begin to imagine the amazing benefits of combining these powerful approaches in an outdoor environment. I am a UKCP registered Integrative Psychotherapist, and Ecotherapist. I also integrate Life Coaching, NLP, Meditation and Advanced Hypnotherapy into my work. Don’t see exactly what you are looking for? Then do please get in touch to discuss your requirements. My training and experience has given me the flexibility and knowledge to help you work through many psychological issues. All treatment is carried out in a completely confidential, highly constructive, relaxed, supportive and non-judgemental environment. When you are committed to make the inner changes you need, simply phone me on 0161 881 4333 or email me to make an appointment now. Related Web Pages and Documents:
- Nigel Magowan Presents His Research into the Potential Effectiveness of Ecotherapy as a Treatment for Anxiety Disorders, at the UKCP Research Conference at Regents University, London
- Inner Changes Ecotherapy – Workshops, Retreats and One-to-One Nature-base Therapy – Manchester UK
- MIND – Ecotherapy
- Ecotherapy UK
- Ecotherapy – personal healing and healing for the earth
- Research Dissertation – The Effectiveness of Nature Awareness Exercises as a Therapeutic Intervention for Anxiety – An HSCED Study – Ecotherapy & Eco-Psychotherapy Research
Buzzell, L., Chalquist, C. (Eds.) (2009) Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind, Sierra Club Books
Clinebell, H (1996) Ecotherapy: Healing Ourselves, Healing the Earth, Minneapolis, Fortress Press
Chalquist, C. (2009), A Look at the Ecotherapy Research Evidence, Ecopsychology, June 2009, Vol. 1, No.2
Burns, G.W. (1998) Nature-Guided Therapy – Brief Integrative Strategies for Health and Well-being, Brunner/Mazel
Jung, C.G, Sabini, Meredith (Ed) (2002) The Earth Has a Soul – The Nature Writings of C.G. Jung, North Atlantic Books
Lacedra, C. (2005) Finding Home: Connecting with the Healing Power of Nature, Infinity Publishing
Linden, S., Grut, J. (2002) The Healing Fields: Working with Psychotherapy and Nature to Rebuild Shattered Lives, Frances Lincoln Limited
Louv, L. (2005) Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder, Atlantic Books
Magowan, N. (2012) The Effectiveness of Nature-Awareness Exercises as a Therapeutic Intervention for Anxiety: A Hermeneutic Single-Case Efficacy Design Study, Manchester UK:Inner Changes Ecotherapy
Metzner, R. (2009) Green Psychology, Shamanism and Therapeutic Rituals in
Buzzell, L., Chalquist, C. (Eds.) Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind, (p256-261) Sierra Club Books
MIND (2007) Ecotherapy the green agenda for mental health, MIND
National Research Council (1981), Indoor Pollutants, Washington DC:National Academy Press
Roszak, T. (2001) The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology, Phanes Press Inc.
Scott S., (2003) Healing with Nature, Helios Press
Bird, W. (2007). Investigating the links between the Natural Environment, Biodiversity and Mental Health. 1st Edition report for the RSBP June 2007, 1-116.
Williams, G.C., Nesse, R. M. (1991) The Dawn of Darwinian Medicine, Quarterly Review of Biology, 66, 1-22
Wilson, E. O., (1984) Biophilia: The human bond with other species, Harvard University Press
Photographs by Rachael Magowan, a professional photographer in Manchester. Specialist fields: live events, landscape, portfolio shots, fine art prints, live music. Inner Changes Ecotherapy UK / Wilderness Therapy UK.