What is outdoor therapy?
Outdoor therapy can go many names, such as nature therapy, ecotherapy, eco-psychotherapy to name a few. The basic premise is the idea people are connected to and can be positively impacted by the natural environment. Furthermore, your very unique relationship with the natural environment is personal, varying from person to person, and therapy considers this when working outdoors to ensure you fully benefit from working in this way.
How is it used?
Typically, the outdoor therapy takes place following at least one indoor session, and from there, we can have a mix of sessions, that take place indoors or outdoors. In this way, we can assess your current relationship with nature, decide what type of natural setting would benefit the therapy work, and cover the practicalities such as where to meet, area to work within, and any other considerations you would like to discuss.
A growing body of research highlights the positive benefits of connecting with nature. In one study, participants were asked to complete a 40-minute cognitive task designed to induce mental fatigue. Following the task, participants were randomly assigned 40 minutes to be spent in one of the three conditions:
- Walking in a nature preserve
- Walking in an urban area
- sitting quietly while reading magazines.
The study concluded participants who had walked in the nature preserve reported less anger and more positive emotions than those who engaged in the other activities. In a similar study conducted by Mind, a nature walk reduced symptoms of depression in 71% of participants, compared to only 45% of those who took a walk through a shopping centre.