Nature Based Therapy
We offer nature based therapy (ecotherapy) which can be arranged on the booking page of this website.
Sometimes we may feel that our life is missing something simple yet fundamental, being more connected to nature and the seasons, can help you tune up the innate wild senses inside you, engage more deeply with the natural world, and improve your health, happiness and well-being.
Ecotherapy refers to healing and growth nurtured by healthy interaction with the earth. It is a form of psychotherapy that acknowledges the vital role of nature and addresses the human-nature relationship. (Howard Clinebell 1996)
It takes into account the latest scientific understandings of our universe and the deepest indigenous wisdom. This perspective addresses the critical fact that people are intimately connected with, embedded in, and inseparable from the rest of nature.
There are various options on the location of nature based therapy depending on what is practical or accessible for you. We have a private nature space at Stanmer Park where on a cold day we can light a fire, a beach hut for a warm drink after a walk on the beach and also beautiful nature spaces in Woodingdean and Saltdean.
There is a growing evidence base for the role of nature (vitamin N) to enhance health and wellbeing. Evidence demonstrates various benefits from engaging with nature, including psychological restoration, reduced depression, anxiety, sadness, fatigue, and stress-related symptoms.
Through our connection with nature, we can experience healing and find a new path, we can remember parts of ourselves that we may feel we have lost connection to in our adult lives. For many of us our childhoods were a time of positive interaction with nature, a time of freedom, spaciousness and a chance to play, be energetic and explore, and this connecton can be restored.
In nature we can find acceptance and belonging in a world that can sometimes feel judgemental, isolating or disconnected. Our adult lives can become so focused on pressures to juggle our career and family, and we can easily get caught up in striving to achieve, do more, be successful, and lose touch with our more carefree and spontaneous parts of self. In nature we can learn to just be in the moment again, to find space, a place to rest and recuperate from the fast pace of our daily lives.
The author Brendan Behan talks of how at the 'innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning to union with one's lost self!' The practice of being in and with nature can lead to a realisation that as humans we are part of something greater than ourselves, not only part of human systems, but ecosystems too and this can be profoundly healing and give us a new sense of 'being home.' (Toko pa-Turner)
“The individual human soul is one element of the fabric of nature. You are not in any way separate from nature. The wild world reflects your essence back to you just like a still lake reflects your image. Is that reflection in you or in the lake? Neither. Both you and the lake are in the world, and the lakereflects that fact back to you. In the same way, your soul, your essence, is in the world, and nature mirrors that fact back to you.” (Bill Plotkin)
Including the body story along with the verbal story in therapeutic activities, illuminates and awakens what may have been obscured in darkness. The touch, the nourishment, the movement that our body craves can be buried under a history of trauma and neglect.
Our bodies witness so much and yet we can stop paying attention to it, only really stopping when we have to because of illness or somatic symptoms. Health andwellbeing improve through contact with the natural world, from the science of the brain's own 'gardener cells' to the grounding effect of working with nature's rhythm of growth, decay and regeneration, ‘our relationship with nature can prove a vital place to cultivate our bodies and minds.’ (Sue Stuart-Smith 2020)
Therapeutic activities in nature like walking or sea swimming can be a helpful way to get out of our heads and back in our bodies. In nature our senses are stimulated by our external surroundings. We can experience physical relief in our bodies which helps restore wellness, this can be incredibly therapeutic and positively impact both physical and emotional health.
David Abram in his book The Spell of the Sensuous (1996) writes about the necessity of this sensory experience, as a way of making contact with our body through contact with the earth, 'by acknowledging such links between the inner, psychological world and the perceptual terrain that surrounds us, we begin to turn inside-out, loosening our psyche from its confinement within a strictly human sphere, freeing sentience to return to the sensible world that contains us.”
Inherent in ecotherapy is how nature heals, that nature can be a therapist/co-therapist. During sessions the therapist, mirrors back through imagery and metaphor, what is noticed or present during the interaction with nature. Sometimes nature has something to show us, and if we can be open and receptive we may be able to learn from it's wisdom.
Working in and with nature in this way has ancient and sacred roots, medicine walks and vision quests (also known as vision fasts) were held within Native American communities. Many traditional cultures would look to the use of ritual and ceremony as part of these sacred journeys.
There would be more of a relationship with the imaginal world, illustrating how when humans are able to connect with the healing powers of the natural world, there is a sense we can,
‘come home to ourselves by recovering a relationship with the imaginal world, restoring in the process a sense of the sacred and the holy.’
Our current way of understanding who we are in relation to nature is a construction, and the deeper relationship that has become hidden is so
much more and can be articulated as,
‘an intertwining, a dance, a powerful connection between us and nature. The world reveals itself as, enchanting, when you can begin to see that psyche is nature, and nature is soulful. Psyche is not something inside of us, it makes itself through the world that we are part of. Rather than being apart from the natural world, we can be a part of it, restoring the broken bond between us and the natural world, and finding a new place of home and belonging.' (Romanyshyn)