Tag Archives: nature

Book Review: The Nature Fix by Florence Williams

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative
Florence Williams
W.W. Norton & Company, 2017
280 pages

Research on why nature is good for us is hardly monopolized by ecopsychology; everyone from neurobiologists to social scientists have been weighing in on the subject for decades with a variety of quantitative and qualitative studies. Some of them seem to be near-repeats of each other; there are multiple studies, for example, showing that we respond better to real nature than to facsimiles like film or plasma screens with live feeds of the outdoors. Other studies go in very different directions; Korean researchers have been putting a great deal of emphasis on the overall sensory experience of nature, leading to surprising results with aromatherapy.

All these studies can feel a little overwhelming, especially for those who don’t want to slog through academic jargon or translate statistics into plain English. Enter The Nature Fix. In it, journalist Florence Williams explores the latest research on the intersection of nature and therapy and explains why it’s important for the everyday person to have access to this information. It’s a wonderfully inviting book, written in Williams’ friendly, humorous, and more than occasionally irreverent tone. (You can’t beat the straight-to-the-point title, either.)

Read more here.

Your First Ecotherapy Session

So you’ve read about ecotherapy and you think it may be a good fit–what’s next?

Your first step, of course, is going to be to find an ecotherapist. You can check the Find an Ecotherapist page here at Watershed Ecotherapy; I’m always adding new practitioners* so check back periodically if there’s no one from your area listed yet. There are more general therapist directories through Psychology Today and GoodTherapy.org. You can also search for “[your city or your state] ecopsychology” or “[your city or your state] ecotherapy” and see if anyone shows up in the results. Many areas also have a directory of therapists that you can find by searching for “[your city or your state] therapists”; some of these practitioners may mention ecopsychology as one of their specialties, or be open to exploring it with you. As of yet I don’t know of any ecotherapists who offer services over phone or internet.

So let’s say you’ve found an ecotherapist you would like to work with, they have availability in their schedule, and they take your insurance or their out of pocket costs are affordable enough for you. Your first session is very important, because it’s where the two of you will first get to know each other a little bit. Keep in mind that the therapist-client relationship is just that: a relationship. It can take time to develop trust and depth, so don’t go in expecting a perfect rapport to form by the end of that first session.

Read more here.

You Don’t Have to Be an Ecotherapist to Practice Ecotherapy

So what is an ecotherapist? Someone who practices ecotherapy, obviously.

Well, maybe. Let’s get a little more nuanced here. There’s the simple definition, but then there’s also the identity end of things. See, “ecotherapist” can denote being something of a specialist, in the same way someone can be an art therapist. Mental health practitioners often use these specialized terms to help potential clients understand what sort of therapeutic practices they offer. And, yes, it can be a valuable marketing tool, especially for private practitioners. Let’s face it–while ecotherapy can be good for a whole spectrum of people, it often tends to attract a particular nature-loving demographic. Preaching to the choir, as it were.

Read more here.

Ways to Develop Your Ecological Self

Last week I promised you that I’d offer up some ways to develop your ecological self, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do today!

Just to recap, the ecological self (or ecological identity) occurs when you stop seeing yourself as a being separate from and superior to the rest of nature, and instead embrace your place as part of a vibrant and varied ecological community full of all sorts of beings and natural phenomena. The more you become your ecological self, the more you feel connected to and responsible for nature, not just out of a sense of self-preservation, but of an altruism toward the world and all its inhabitants.

Please remember that developing your ecological self can be a lifelong pursuit, so don’t come in expecting immediate dramatic results. What I offer here are some starting points; take them and make them your own, and add in your own personal twists!

Read more here.

What is the Ecological Self?

One of my favorite concepts in ecopsychology is that of the ecological self. It originated with deep ecology, the philosophy founded by Arne Næss that encourages us to see ourselves as one of many parts of a vibrant global ecosystem and to value all of nature for itself rather than for what we can use it for. The ecological self is who we are when we see ourselves as interwoven with the rest of life. More importantly, the ecological self is altruistic, with a deep-seated need to care for and protect all life, not just human aims.

Most of us in the United States were raised with the idea that humans are at the top of an ecological pyramid; some of us even grew up learning that we have dominion over the entire planet and that it was made specifically for us. Unfortunately this power-over approach has led us to severely damage ecosystems, even in the most remote parts of the planet. We’ve polluted the air, water and soil, caused numerous species to go extinct, and even threaten our own health and happiness in spite of our supposed superiority.

Yet we also yearn for a connection with nature.

Read more here.

Book Review: Vitamin N by Richard Louv

Vitamin N: 500 ways to Enrich the Health & Happiness of Your Family & Community and Combat Nature-Deficit Disorder
Richard Louv
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2016
278 pages

I admit I’m something of a Richard Louv fangirl. I’ve loved his writing since his first book, Last Child in the Woods, came out in 2008. While I don’t have any children of my own, I still very strongly remember being a kid growing up in the 1980s, running rampant across our small-town Midwest neighborhood. Long summer days of looking for bugs under rocks, exploring the nooks and crannies in moss, and pushing my way through thickets of young Eastern red cedar set the stage for who I am as an adult. I mourn the fact that so many people in the decades since then have missed out on that experience.

This, then, is Louv’s practical antidote to our ongoing disconnection from nature. There really are five hundred ideas in this text, ranging from picking out a particular place in nature to sit and visit every day, to turning your back yard into a butterfly haven, to taking up birding. Many of them are geared toward families with children, but even the young at heart can get behind splashing in puddles, making seed bombs, or going on an expedition to find nearby nature, those parks, gardens and other small oases in an urban neighborhood.

Read more here.

How to Incorporate Ecopsychology into the Intake Process

The first session with a new client is often the most important; not only can it set the tone for how the practitioner-client relationship will develop, but many clients decide whether to continue working with a new professional by the end of that initial encounter. One of the ways you can help a client feel more comfortable and respected is by using the intake form to familiarize yourself with them. After all, few things make a client feel worse than when their therapist can’t even remember their name!

You don’t have to wait until you’ve developed a long-term relationship with your client to start bringing ecopsychology into the equation. The simplest way to do this is to include a question or three about the client’s relationship to nature in the intake form. Clients are often encouraged to talk about their relationships to other human beings, be they friends, family, coworkers, etc. But what about relationships to the non-human parts of their world?

Read more at http://www.watershedecotherapy.com/articles/for-ecotherapists/how-to-incorporate-ecopsychology-into-the-intake-process/

Why Ecotherapy?

I’ve already talked a bit about what ecopsychology and ecotherapy are elsewhere on this site. In short, ecopsychology looks at our psychological connection to the rest of nature, while ecotherapy puts that connection to work in improving our mental health and well being.

But why might you look for an ecotherapist for your mental health treatment? After all, there are therapists out there with a wide variety of specialties, from traditional approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy, to more creative practices like art therapy. There are professional counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, and more, each with their own training and experience.

Read more here.