Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind (Part 1)

Sometimes I read a book that makes such an impact I consider it a life-altering experience. Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind, which is edited by Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist is one of those books.

So, what is ecotherapy? "According to Howard Clinebell, who wrote a 1996 book on the topic, ecotherapy refers to healing and growth nurtured by healthy interaction with the earth. He also called it 'green therapy,' and 'earth-centered' therapy."

Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist write, "As an umbrella term for nature-based methods of physical and psychological healing, ecotherapy represents a new form of psychotherapy that acknowledges the vital role of nature and addresses the human-nature relationship. It takes into account the latest scientific understandings of our universe and the deepest indigenous wisdom. This perspective addresses the critical fact that people are intimately connected with, embedded in, and inseparable from the rest of nature. Grasping this fact shifts our understanding of how to heal the human psyche and the currently dysfunctional, even lethal, human-nature relationship."

In the foreword to the book, David W. Orr, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College and a James Marsh Professor at the University of Vermont, writes:
"...The promise of ecotherapy lies in the possibility that such work can initiate healing rooted in our affinity with the natural world and can sponsor sanity in a world gone mad. In time it might restore our rootedness in particular places, based not on intellectual abstractions of religion, philosophy, or ideology but on the tug of something already deep inside us. By any name it is a homecoming of sorts to the sights, sounds, smells, sensations, and tastes of the only world we will ever know. It represents a saner kind of sanity and a more rational rationality.

"Ecotherapy begins with the fact that we indeed live in the lap of a great intelligence, as Emerson once said. It is a practical acknowledgment that health, healing, wholeness, and holy are related not just by linguistic accident but by the fact that they are one and inseparable."
I realize that these descriptions may not enable you to understand what ecotherapy actually encompasses, but perhaps this final quote from Buzzell and Chalquist will help.
"The contributors to this anthology envision ecotherapeutic healing on many levels and in many contexts. Together they represent a community of practitioners called to write about what they sense so sharply in themselves and in their surroundings: how to begin healing the pain of a world under siege by manic industry and lucrative tehnologized indifference. Having moved beyond psychic numbing into an awareness of the intricate connections between planetary health and human well-being, they have crafted and practiced approaches for reawakening our natural psychological connection to the world."
Tomorrow, I'll write about what I've learned that is going to help me deal with the seasonal aspect of my depressions. Stay tuned!


Hapi said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Hapi,
Thanks for dropping by!


marja said...

Every morning this summer I've been sitting outside on the patio for a couple of hours from ca 6 - 8, taking in everything - the flowers, the birds, feeling the sunshine on my face as it comes over the trees. I've found that very healing, as well as the prayers of gratitude that I offer up as I sit there.

Does the book talk about this kind of communing with nature (and, in my case, God)?

Wellness Writer said...

There are certainly essays on the flowers, birds, sunshine, and all that. There is a section on spirituality, but not with an emphasis on God.


John FW said...

Susan -

Thank you for alerting me to this book. It's something I'm definitely in tune with, and I'll get it as soon as I can.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear John,
I can't even describe what a difference it has made in my life. It puts everything in perspective for me.