What is Nature Therapy?
I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. ~John Burroughs
Nature therapy is an innovative form of psychotherapy that we find uniquely useful. It can be most beneficial in coping with stress, anxiety, and relationship challenges. While many of us instinctively feel better in nature, there are a number of scientific studies to support this experience.
Feel Grounded and Connected with the Earth
Nature therapy involves taking a typical, one-hour therapy session outdoors. This is based on the principles of ecopsychology, which look at how we feel interconnected with the earth. When we are in nature, we feel smaller and part of the larger earth. Studies have found that people feel more comfortable, soothed, and refreshed in natural environments. This helps us feel grounded and see our difficulties in new ways.
Moving in Nature is Good for You
Sometimes called “walk and talk” therapy, nature therapy takes place during a gentle walk or hike. As we engage our bodies, we wake up alternate parts of our brains. This allows us to form new connections, as well as creatively find new solutions. Walking in nature has been found to improve memory, and mood, as well as to significantly reduce the body’s stress response.
At Thrive SLO, we have the added benefit of living near the ocean. We offer nature therapy while walking along the ocean, providing additional boosts of calm and creativity. The colors of nature, particularly the color blue have been found to stimulate the areas of the brain that involve attention and memory, encouraging greater creativity and attention to relationships between items.
7 Simple Steps to Create Your Own Therapeutic Nature Experience:
While Nature Therapy requires a licensed mental health clinician, you can easily create your own therapeutic nature experience!
- Get outside to get moving.
- Check in: before you begin walking, ask yourself how you are feeling on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being absolutely amazing).
- Set an intention: take a brief moment to pause and acknowledge the problem or identify a goal for your walk.
- Walk with purpose: explore the various angles of the situation and acknowledge what you’ve done that has worked, as well as what hasn’t worked.
- Turning point: when you reach the pinnacle/ half-way/ turn around point, ask yourself if there is a different way you can look at the situation.
- Acknowledge your hard work: when you complete your nature walk, give yourself credit for having taken the time for yourself and for having done the hard work that comes with hiking and self-reflection
- Check back in & set an intention: Go back to the scale of 1 to 5 and ask yourself if anything has changed. Set an intention moving forward, as you integrate the new insight and information you may have gained on your journey.