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Nature Therapy: Incorporating nature into arts therapy

Summary


Nature Therapy broadens the classical therapeutic relationship between therapist and client by introducing nature as a third factor

This article presents the theoretical framework and central concepts of the Nature Therapy therapeutic method. It also presents applications with different populations in varied natural environments, including a forest and a nature reserve. Nature Therapy is defined as “a creative therapy method that takes place in nature, and perceives nature as a partner in constructing a therapeutic setting and process.” This therapeutic approach is based on the understanding that people’s estrangement from nature is linked to psychosocial distress and with such symptoms as the loss of self-esteem and meaning, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and alienation.

Nature Therapy reflects assumptions consistent with ecopsychology and deep ecology, including the understanding that by reconnecting with nature, people can connect with their strengths and source of healing. The Nature Therapy method integrates elements from several creative postmodern therapies, including Play Therapy and Drama Therapy, along with elements from other nature-oriented practices such as Vision Quests and Adventure and Wilderness Therapies.

Nature Therapy is used with children, youth, and adults, including individuals who have experienced trauma and loss and individuals who are dealing with emotional and psychiatric issues. The program has also been used with different school groups, where related activities are often conducted both indoors and outdoors. The Safe Place program is an example of this. More than 12,000 kindergarten and schoolchildren in both regular and special education settings in northern Israel have participated in this program. Safe Place is based on the metaphorical relationship between the damage to the forest caused by fires during the second Lebanon war and the forest’s recovery. During the program, children are invited to act out their own parallel story within a secure, nature-based setting. They are also given the opportunity to strengthen their own relationship with nature through such stewardship activities as planting trees and building bird feeders and nesting boxes.

This article discusses ways in which Nature Therapy broadens the classical therapeutic relationship between therapist and client by introducing nature as the third factor. By cultivating the well-being of humans as well as the more-than-human natural world, Nature Therapy can also play a role in promoting nature conservation.

Citation

Berger, R., (2017). Nature Therapy: Incorporating nature into arts therapy. Journal of Humanistic Psychology

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