What is Ecotherapy?
The term 'ecotherapy' is attributed to Howard Clinebell, a pastoral counselor in the 1990's who described an 'earth-centered therapy' that included three elements:
In reach (being nurtured by the healing presence of nature, or the earth)
Up reach (the transcendent experience of vitality as we connect to the natural world)
Out reach (the outflow of caring for the planet that occurs when we reconnect with nature).
The term 'ecopsychology' was first used by Theodore Roszak in Voice of the Earth, to describe our innate, deep connection t0 the Earth, and to understand the why of our disconnection and the how of our healing of the earth through a re-connection with nature.
There are numerous current academic works and clinical practices throughout the UK, the US, Australia, and Canada, all seeking to reconnect with nature and heal ourselves and the planet, and all doing it in marvelous and unique ways. An article in Alive magazine recently described some nature-based therapy in Canada.
One author who is very much a voice for ecotherapy in the UK, David McGeeney, says, "Ecotherapy is the experience of being in nature and feeling an improvement in well-being." How elegant and simple is that statement! Ecotherapy in a nutshell!
Faith Richardson views ecotherapy similarly. Ecotherapy is essential therapy in that it is based on our deepest roots as human beings on Earth ... one that reclaims a soul-full and healing nature-connection. As an ecotherapist, she views nature as the primary healer and seeks to partner with nature by practicing in a farm environment. In her role as ecotherapist she may act at times as facilitator, catalyst, counselor, coach, mentor, fellow-traveler, message-decoder, and sacred witness along your journey. Horses, individually and in a collective herd, are often messengers of nature and of spirit, but all of nature--trees and forest, meadow and wild flowers, birds, wild and farm animals all share this 'natural magic' to reconnect us with our roots and heal us in our innermost core.
Fox Song Farm provides the canvas for therapy with a nature connection.
Below are a couple of Youtube videos that describe some aspects of ecotherapy. Remember, you do NOT need an ecotherapist to enjoy the health benefits of nature--they are there for everyone! That said, if you would like to set aside some time for reflective inner-work in nature, an ecotherapist might just be your best prescription.