As an umbrella term for nature-based methods of physical and psychological healing, ecotherapy points to the need to reinvent psychotherapy and psychiatry as if nature and the human-nature relationship matters. It takes into account the latest scientific understandings of our universe and the deepest indigenous wisdom. This perspective reveals the critical fact that people are intimately connected with, embedded in, and inseparable from the rest of nature. Grasping this fact deeply shifts our understanding of how to heal the human psyche and the currently dysfunctional and even lethal human-nature relationship. It becomes clear that what happens to nature for good or ill impacts people and vice versa, leading to the development of new methods of individual and community psychotherapeutic diagnosis and treatment.
Ecotherapeutic work as Clinebell conceived it takes guidance from an Ecological Circle of three mutually interacting operations or dynamics:
- Inreach: receiving and being nurtured by the healing presence of nature, place, Earth.
- Upreach: the actual experience of this more-than-human vitality as we relocate our place within the natural world.
- Outreach: activities with other people that care for the planet.
Closing the circle keeps ecotherapy from narrowly focused self-absorption, further nature exploitation for human purposes, feel-good maneuvers, or thinking good thoughts as planetary panaceas. Ecotherapy as applied ecopsychology employs many methods in disciplined and systematic attempts to reconnect the psyche and the body with the terrestrial sources of all healing.
Some examples of recent ecotherapy research findings:
- “Equine Therapy Helps Withdrawn Vets Reconnect”
- “71% Report Depression Decrease After Green Walk”
- “Immersion in Nature Makes Us Nicer”
- “How the City Hurts Your Brain...and What You Can Do About It”
- “Connection to Nature Vital to Our Mental and Physical Health, Scientists Say”
- “Drug Addiction: Environmental Conditions Play Major Role In Effective Treatment And Preventing Relapses, Animal Study Shows”