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There is now a growing body of research showing that being outdoors and taking part in nature-based activities can be good for your physical and mental well-being. (See research information in Links)
My nature-based psychotherapy practice draws on ideas and research from environmental psychology and ecotherapy. It is also influenced by my experience of working with children in forest school settings and with young people and adults in horticultural therapy and ecotherapy projects. I provide nature-based psychotherapy sessions in gardens, city parks and countryside locations in Suffolk.
Nature-based psychotherapy focuses on people as human creatures who are part of nature in an interconnected wider world and universe. We have evolved in the natural world, and through our human activity and invention have made our lives a lot easier in many ways. However, we now often have busy and sometimes very stressful experiences in the indoor and outdoor environments humans have created.
In many counselling and psychotherapy practices the relationship between therapist and client is seen as a key feature in bringing about healing and change. Outdoor therapeutic work offers us in addition a complex and rich environment, bringing therapist and client into direct contact with the natural world. We can find strength and healing from our outdoor environment, but we can in turn, by connecting with and understanding more about the natural world, contribute to sustaining a healthier environment.
Mobility concerns: If you have particular mobility requirements please do contact me and we can discuss ways of working therapeutically outside to meet your needs.
How do I start nature-based psychotherapy?
Initially I will arrange to meet you in an indoor setting to discuss your situation and find out whether you feel nature-based psychotherapy might be of interest to you.
Generally nature-based psychotherapy takes place over an hour, although longer sessions can be discussed. The therapy can take the form of walking and talking or finding a place to sit and reflect. It could also include exercises to enhance awareness of inner and outer experience, for example mindfulness or creative activities.
The freedom of being outdoors makes more choice available for the client and therapist about the location of therapy and which route to take. This can offer potential benefits and challenges that can be explored in the session. Before starting on outdoor sessions we will discuss the usual parameters for effective and ethical counselling and make agreements concerning confidentiality and safety. Discussing how confidentiality is managed can be very important as we may encounter other people whilst outside.
Weather can offer an added and natural dimension to the therapeutic experience. Sometimes, as long as we are equipped for the outdoors -
waterproofs, warm layers and comfortable walking shoes or boots - the weather can be a powerful part of the experience to be encompassed in the therapy. However, I will always consult with you before setting out, taking weather and other risks into consideration and making alternative arrangements as necessary.
You do not need to be 'super fit' or consider yourself to be to an “outdoors” sort of person to benefit from nature-based psychotherapy.Any activity can be taken at your pace and to suit your individual needs.
Where will we walk?
The “wild” or natural world can be encountered in a townscape, gardens and city parks as well as in the countryside and national parks. We can walk on rural footpaths in Suffolk but also in town parks. We can discuss the possibilities.
All rights reserved 2012
S J Webster
Sally camping in Derbyshire, 2015.
Nature-based psychotherapy training.