Eco Spirituality and Nature-Informed Therapies–Part One


Eco-psychology and nature-informed therapies are varied. The most common forms of practice include Eco-therapy, Horticulture Therapy, and Wilderness Therapy.

Eco-therapy, coined by Howard Clinebell (1996) in his book, “Eco- therapy: Healing Ourselves, Healing the Earth,” has been described as the process of healing the human-nature-relationship through connecting and reconnecting with natural processes (Buzzell, 2014, Jordan, 2015).

Clinebell suggested that the relationship between nature and humanity is reciprocal, holistic and spiritual. Therefore, eco- therapy focuses on the total mind-body-spirit-relationship organism (Jordan, 2015, p.38)

An example of the cross-cultural appeal of eco-therapy is noted in the observation of Japan’s Forest Bathing. Forest bathing or Shinrin-Yoko (a Japanese term meaning “taking in the forest atmosphere”) has been practiced for decades in Japan.

According to Qing Li, associate professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, forest bathing has been found to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase anti-cancer proteins.

Li attributed some of the benefits to inhaling the phytocides released by trees that appear to enhance the immune system.

Horticulture Therapy

Horticulture therapy is the use of plants as a modality through which clinically defined goals may be met.

It is the process by which individuals may develop well-being using plants. This is achieved by active or passive involvement (Growth Point, 1994 p.4 as cited by Jordan, 2015).

The use of gardens for therapeutic healing has been observed by many researchers. In the 1990’s , Swedish companies witnessed stress-related exhaustion of their employees. Specially designed gardens were developed and staffed with interdisciplinary team members that included psychotherapists, as well as gardeners, to help people in their recovery.

The gardens were designed to meet the moods of the employees during rehabilitation (Jordan, 2015).

Further, Denmark has initiated “The Healing Forest Garden Nacadia” project which aims to study long-term effects of nature-based therapy while incorporating mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness Therapy focuses on the interaction between and within humans and the outdoors (Jordan, 2015).

A more structured program may be employed consisting of activities such as kayaking, canoeing, hiking, rope climbing, or mountain climbing. Such activities emphasize the natural and delicate dance orchestrated in human and other-than-human natural encounters.



Eco Spirituality and Nature-Informed Therapies–Part One