What is Nature-Based Therapy?

What is Nature-Based Therapy?

In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, many people are seeking solace and healing in nature. Nature-based therapy offers a unique approach to mental health care by utilizing the outdoor setting for therapeutic work. From urban parks to wilderness settings, forests, beaches, lakes, and rivers, nature becomes a co-therapist in the healing process.

What Does Nature-Based Therapy Encompass?

Nature-based therapy is a broad field that includes various approaches, such as:

  • Eco-psychotherapy
  • Wilderness adventure therapy
  • Bush adventure therapy
  • Green therapy
  • Forest therapy
  • Eco-therapy
  • Equine therapy

These methods all share a common goal: to harness the restorative power of nature to support mental and emotional well-being.

Adapting to a Changing World

The global COVID-19 pandemic has prompted therapists to rethink how therapy is delivered. As traditional in-person sessions became challenging, many therapists turned to alternatives like telehealth and outdoor settings. This shift has highlighted the potential of nature-based therapy as a viable and effective option for many individuals.

Benefits of Nature-Based Therapy

The advantages of nature-based therapy are numerous and impactful. Here are some key benefits:

  1. Comfort and Openness:
    • Many people find it easier to talk side-by-side in an outdoor setting compared to a clinical or online environment. The natural surroundings can create a sense of ease, making it more comfortable to express thoughts and feelings.
  2. Perspective and Insight:
    • Movement in nature, such as walking, can help shift perspectives and provide new insights. Walk and Talk therapy leverages the therapeutic alliance outdoors, facilitating deeper and more meaningful conversations.
  3. Emotional and Physical Well-being:
    • Being in nature can help people feel more grounded, connected, and less stuck. The natural environment can enhance emotional release and problem-solving, boost mood, and reduce stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Additionally, it can improve circulation and promote better sleep.
  4. Nature as a Therapeutic Agent:
    • The natural environment acts both passively and actively in therapy. Through metaphor, relationship building, role play, modelling, and stabilisation, nature is a third party in the therapeutic process. The dynamic and ever-changing backdrop of nature—varying with seasons, weather, and time of day—adds variety and richness to counselling sessions.

Conclusion

Nature-based therapy is a powerful and flexible approach to mental health care that leverages the inherent healing qualities of the natural world. Whether through eco-psychotherapy, wilderness adventure therapy, or forest therapy, integrating nature into therapeutic practices can profoundly benefit mental and emotional well-being. As we continue to navigate the challenges posed by modern life and global events like the pandemic, nature-based therapy offers a refreshing and effective alternative to traditional therapeutic settings.

Changes in Between offers Walk and Talk Therapy

Ready to take the next step of stepping your counselling into nature? Book a brief enquiry call. 

Julie Jensen

Qualifications

Master of Education (Experiential Learning & Development) – Wilderness Adventure Therapy Stream – Victoria University of Technology

Advanced Accreditation in Nature-Based Therapy, Nature-Based Therapy

Getting Started as a Walking Therapist: A Step-by-Step Guide, Jen Udler, PESI, USA

Memberships

Australasian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy (AABAT) – Member