For many people, just being in nature evokes inspiration and transformation. It’s no secret and it is increasingly accepted that there are numerous health benefits for mind, body and soul when we simply ‘take a walk’. Nature – based therapies are certainly not new and could well be described as the earliest form of healing. There are various approaches within the field of ecotherapy and at Walk Inniú, David offers Integrative counselling psychotherapy delivered through an ecotherapeutic lens. What this means is that David uses ecotherapy to transform and enlarge the scope of traditional counselling psychotherapy to include, explore and restore the human-to-nature connection as well as the human-to-human relationship.
E.O. Wilson’s Biophilia Hypothesis (1984) promoted the idea of there being an instinctive bond between humans and other living systems and defined it as “the urge to affiliate with other forms of life”. The term ecotherapy was coined by Howard Clinebell in 1996 and its forerunner, ecopsychology is accredited to Theodore Roszak in 1992. Lorraine Fish (2009) reminds us that before mind, body and spirit were separated by Western Cartesian practices, in early times the word ‘psyche’ has meant breath, spirit and even anima mundi (soul of the world). Ecotherapy has an ancient pedigree and I believe that it can guide us in experiencing and reconnecting with our very life force.
Loneliness and a lost sense of self and place are experiences common to many. Ecotherapy helps us with our healing process and furthermore assists us whilst we replenish and grow our sense of wellbeing. If you have an affinity with nature, and remember we are all part of nature, you may find counselling psychotherapy outdoors to be a truly supportive experience, placing you in harmony with your natural environment.
Ecotherapy takes into account the feelings of loss, hopelessness and denial that many of us are living with due to the gross injustices that nature and our planet experiences, such as climate change, pollution, over population and the mass extinction of birds, animals, plants and other species. The practice of ecotherapy is mindful of the latest scientific knowledge in relation to our universe but simultaneously respects the deep wisdom and learning of indigenous peoples and culture. When you engage with counselling psychotherapy outdoors with David at Walk Inniú, you are creatively reconsidering your individuality and your wider human and ecological relationships.
David also integrates aspects of mindfulness in his practice – an emphasis on ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ and on being present. The often incessant negative chatter of our minds is exhausting but feeling a light breeze on your face or seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and sensing leaves falling from a tree can heighten your ‘direct experience’ and leave you feeling refreshed, centred and empowered.
Nature is filled with precious metaphors. It is often challenging in traditional counselling psychotherapy to access what you are feeling and it is another task to find words to describe what you are feeling. Ecotherapy helps you to discover other ways of communicating and reconnecting, often sparked or encouraged by the simple everyday natural phenomena such as a fallen tree, a blue sky, new buds after a long winter or a flowing stream. These and other metaphors can help you relate to what you are currently experiencing and grow your self-acceptance.
Some people prefer to attend their sessions with David indoors and indeed all first meetings take place in a traditional indoor consulting room. The decision to ‘move outdoors’ is always at your discretion.
Wilson(1984), Roszak (1992), Clinebell (1996), Fish (2009), Buzzell & Chalquist (2009), Hasbach (2012), MIND (2013), Jordan (2014). Click here for further reading.