Date of the last update: 12.01.2023
By exploring the current scientific literature, we can easily find evidence that close contact with nature benefits people, both in terms of physical and mental aspects of our health. Canadian researchers went a step further – in their book they presented a set of practical tips and advice for therapists and educators who want to include interaction with nature in their therapeutic practice or are simply curious about it.
Table of Contents:
- Nature-based therapy – a practical guide for therapists
- The main assumptions of “natural therapy”
- Who should read the guide?
- New technologies, nature and psychological well-being
- Conclusion – what will therapists get out of this book?
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Nature-based therapy – a practical guide for therapists
“Nature-based therapy – a practical guide to working outdoors with children, young people and families”. This could be the Polish title of the book published in 2019: “Nature-Based Therapy: A Practitioner’s Guide to Working Outdoors with Children, Youth, and Families”. Three specialists are responsible for it – Dr. N.J. Harper, K. Rose and D. Segal. It is a very accessible guide, full of anecdotes and stories, for all people working in educational and therapeutic institutions. The book goes beyond the strictly academic framework, becoming a practical guide in the field of outdoor therapy.
The book of just over 300 pages introduces the reader to the world of nature, and more precisely – its impact on the achievement of therapeutic goals. Various applications of methods based on contact with nature in relation to children, adolescents and families are presented, where nature is presented as an effective co-therapist. The authors also raise ethical issues related to the type of therapy they promote. The work is crowned with practical tips for therapists who would like to include an element of close contact with nature in their methods of working with the patient.
The main assumptions of “natur- based therapy”
The key point of reference for nature-based therapy is the process of man’s gradual distancing from his natural roots. The authors present the theoretical foundations and practical ideas for therapeutic classes with children, adolescents and entire families, whose common denominator is communing with living nature.
A key aim of the book is to present the enormous opportunities offered by wildlife and to encourage professionals to move their practice from office walls to natural spaces. Ones in which nature will play the role of a full-fledged partner – a facilitator to create lasting change.
According to the authors, nature-based therapy can be implemented in various ways, but it is certainly possible to point to several of its fundamental elements, such as therapist’s relationship with nature, involvement of the whole body, play and risk, or bond and belonging.
A particularly interesting issue is the aforementioned risk, and more precisely – taking risky games in a hyper-protective society. According to the authors, the so-called “risk games” are conducive to, among others, improvement of motor skills, greater self-esteem, development of immunity, improvement of well-being or self-regulation.
Who should read the guide?
The work is intended primarily for therapists, social workers, educators, people working with youth, employees of educational and therapeutic institutions and parents. In other words, for all practitioners of therapy and working with others. Finally, anyone who wants to know the power of the natural world and its beneficial effects can reach for the book.
It is worth noting that the authors do not impose their approach to therapeutic practice, but rather share their approach. They indicate numerous benefits, but also potential limitations of natural therapy.
New technologies, nature and psychological well-being
The authors pay particular attention to the progressive development of new technologies. For many people, young and old, this is a source of stress and mental health problems. The authors point to nature as a powerful antidote to the negative effects of such a rapidly changing reality. The key is to disconnect from technology, and in its place, reconnect with nature, understood as the source, roots or more figuratively – our real home.
As J. Rodenburg stated in his review, “Nowadays we need nature more than ever before”. Descriptions of useful methods and examples of their effectiveness bring hope that even in toxic conditions it is possible to maintain well-being and a positive approach to life.
Conclusion – what will therapists get out of this book?
The guide offers therapists a ready-made framework based on empirical research, thanks to which they will be able to introduce techniques and tools of outdoor work on their own. The book contains a number of practical tips based on the authors’ extensive professional experience. There was also a critical analysis of individual scientific theories and evidence from many fields of science.
As the authors point out, this book cannot replace professional knowledge resulting from training, studies or professional practice. This results directly from the special professional responsibility of people involved in therapy. Everyone who draws inspiration from this work has a responsibility to provide their clients with a safe, supportive environment for therapy.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that spending time in nature has biological, psychological and social benefits. The aim of the authors was to inspire therapists to implement the element of communing with nature in their work. Judging by the numerous positive reviews and comments, this goal was achieved.
A few words about the authors of the work
Dr. Nevin J. Harper is a professor at the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria in Canada, a registered clinical counselor and founder of two organizations – the Canadian Adventure Therapy Symposium and the Child & Nature Alliance of Canada. Professor Harper’s research mainly concerns the relationship between man and the natural environment.
Kathryn Rose received her MFA in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Wildlife Therapy from Naropa University in Colorado. She is registered with the BC Association of Clinical Counselors. For over 10 years he has been practicing and promoting activities that use the healing power of nature.
David Segal holds an MA in Child and Youth Care from Victoria University. He is registered with the BC Association of Clinical Counselors. For over 15 years he has been dealing with nature-based therapeutic counseling. David contributes to the development of the field of ecotherapy by working as a clinical consultant.