What is Nature-based Counseling?

I believe we have a lot to learn from observing, interacting with, and studying nature. Themes from the natural world are easily translatable to us as humans like: growth, seasons, planting seeds, pruning, beauty, weeds, storms, roots, blooms, light/dark, soil, and many more. Not only does nature provide metaphor for our human experience, but in and of itself it provides a sense of peace, clarity, and healing.

Especially in our current culture, with technology becoming an ever-increasing obsession, we have become more disconnected, depressed and anxious than ever before. We have lost the ability to be, to listen deeply to others, to ourselves, and to God. Nature provides a way to re-connect, slow down, get grounded, and find clarity and tranquility.

I know this to be personally true. Whether I'm in my garden, on a hike, or on a walk through our neighborhood listening to the birds and feeling the breeze on my face, I am immediately filled with a deeper sense of internal peace. Investigating a caterpillar's metamorphosis into a butterfly and watching it happen in my own backyard leaves me in awe of our Creator and His artistry.

Research studies show how nature decreases anxiety, increases a sense of calm and peace, and can even decrease pain. Different types of eco-therapy (aka nature-based therapy) include horticulture therapy, outdoor meditation or yoga, wilderness or adventure therapy, and animal assisted therapy.

What I focus on most is integrating nature into the counseling process simply by counseling outdoors in a quiet place, or implementing garden therapy (where we integrate gardening into the counseling process). If you resonate with nature and find it life-giving to you, this may be the right fit!

Recommended Books:

The Nature Principle by Richard Louv

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

Devotions by Mary Oliver

Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge (especially the chapters "Drinking Beauty," and "Get Outside")

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