Ever hear of Ecotherapy? Well, it is a trend that is becoming increasingly popular in the era of urbanization, and its effectiveness has been proven by research.
What is the philosophy behind Ecotherapy and exactly what benefit can it bring to children and adults?
In the next round of the development of civilization, humanity is attempting to return to its roots – in the bosom of nature, where we came from. Green, or ecotherapy, is the practice of ecopsychology, the formation of which we owe to the American historian, cultural scientist, and counterculture theorist Theodor Roszak. Today, ecotherapy is one of the areas that is gaining popularity.
WE ARE THE PART OF THE ECOSYSTEM
The concept of ecotherapy is quite obvious: since humanity is part of the living world of the planet, our psyche cannot exist separately from the entire ecosystem. Therefore, synchronization helps to stabilize the psychological and physical state of a person.
Thus, the essence of ecotherapy is the connection with the Earth’s biosystems, which, according to many experts, have the ability to self-balance.
“Tuning” to the rhythm of a living planet helps a person to bring the psyche and some aspects of physical health into a healthy balance.
PROOF OF EFFICIENCY
Even on a speculative level, it is not difficult to assess the benefits that being in nature brings us. Having become a trend in psychotherapy, it has also undergone scientific study. Many studies have confirmed that ecotherapy can indeed be effective. One of them, conducted under the guidance of psychologist Terry Hartig, studied the effect produced on three control groups by three types of recreation: walking in nature, walking in the city, or listening to music, sitting indoors.
The decrease in the level of anger and the general improvement in the emotional state was noticeably more intense among the participants of the first group after being outdoors. Another study was initiated by the Mind Mental Health Charity. It showed that outdoor walks in 71% of participants reduced the manifestations of depression.
Some experts practice ecotherapy as the main direction in working with clients and patients, while many, evaluating its undoubted advantages, have included ecotherapy in their methodical arsenal as one of the treatment options.
The term “ecotherapy” is an umbrella term, and it includes several rather different techniques. Some of them require the presence of a psychotherapist, while others are effective when working in groups, and others are ideal for healing privacy.
Here are some of the most popular green therapy practices:
Meditation in nature: Classes are held outdoors – for example, in a park, sometimes in a group. Participants select the object that attracts them, for example, a tree, and think for a few minutes about how it is associated with them and what can be learned from it. So, an elderly person suffering from a loss of self-worth can strengthen self-esteem by meditating on old trees in the forest. The lesson often ends with sharing – the exchange of impressions and ideas.
Gardening: Good old-fashioned work in the garden or garden is used by ecotherapists to treat stress, burnout and substance dependence, as well as in cases of social isolation in the elderly. In Chicago, special programs have been developed for war veterans, thanks to which patients cope with post-traumatic syndrome by growing flowers and vegetables.
Animal Therapy: One or more animals may be involved in the healing process. Hippotherapy has long been known as an effective practice for people with autism spectrum disorders and other diseases. And playing with a dog, studies confirm, reduces the level of aggression in a person and reduces arousal.
Exercise in the fresh air: Walking, running, cycling, and yoga in the park contribute to the merger with nature and are often recommended for dealing with stress, depression, and bouts of anger.
Nature conservation activities: Effective care for nature – for example, tree planting – helps to find a goal and feel hope, optimism. Usually, this activity is carried out in groups. This raises the mood due to the feeling of belonging to a group and socialization.
The growing number of people living in cities and isolated from nature, suffering from various disorders, including depression and anxiety, the effectiveness and accessibility of “green” treatment, as well as the fashion for all “eco,” suggest that ecotherapy will become more and more and more popular.