Redefining Therapy

When you think about seeing a therapist, what do you envision?

Most likely, you picture something like this…

What if it looked nothing like what you picture?  No painting on the walls, no sound machine outside the door with the sound of ocean waves crashing, books in the waiting room…

What is eco-therapy?

” As an umbrella term for nature-based methods of physical and psychological healing, ecotherapy points to the need to reinvent psychotherapy and psychiatry as if nature and the human-nature relationship matters. It takes into account the latest scientific understandings of our universe and the deepest indigenous wisdom. This perspective reveals the critical fact that people are intimately connected with, embedded in, and inseparable from the rest of nature. Grasping this fact deeply shifts our understanding of how to heal the human psyche and the currently dysfunctional and even lethal human-nature relationship. It becomes clear that what happens to nature for good or ill impacts people and vice versa, leading to the development of new methods of individual and community psychotherapeutic diagnosis and treatment.”   (from ecotherapy heals )

Are we redefining our traditional ideas?

For me, what came out of a circumstance of pure convenience, developed into a therapeutic experience unmatched within the four walls of my office.

Does therapy have to always happen in an office? 

What is the benefit of getting out of the traditional environment and how could this further and deepen the work? 

While the body of research is still developing, there is plenty of evidence to support the benefits of conducting mental health therapy in a natural setting.  ( see below for references)

This was my office yesterday…


Surrounded by the beauty of the natural environment { and the mosquitos…}, I conducted my therapy session in a method termed “walk and talk” ( what is walk and talk? ).  Reinforcing Mindfulness practice and experiencing the freedom and openness that comes with open space and fresh air.

Certainly, it is not perfect, and it’s not guaranteed to be confidential.  Before beginning a walk and talk session, you have to discuss confidentiality, how you will handle meeting someone familiar, and must take physical limitations into consideration.

What next?

As with everything, balance is the key.  Both traditional and eco therapy methods have their limitations.  It cannot be denied, however, that there is validity and healing within the natural environment and furthering our connection to our surroundings can yield great gains.

For me as a clinician, it challenged me to redefine my ideas about how and where the therapeutic process can take place and open my mind to the realm of possibility that eco therapy provides.

What are your thoughts?




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