Ecotherapy is a formal type of therapeutic treatment that consists of engaging in outdoor activities in nature. There is no single definition of ecotherapy, but it is often used to describe a regular, structured activity that is:
led by trained professionals (sometimes therapists) who are there to support you about your health
occurs in a green environment
is related to exploring and appreciating the natural world
involves spending time with other people, although you can always choose to interact at your own pace.
You can run an ecotherapy program alone or in conjunction with other treatments such as talk therapy, arts and creative therapies, or medication.
Different terms for ecotherapy
Some people use different words to describe ecotherapy depending on whether the activity has an emphasis on exercise, gardening (also known as horticulture), or therapy. Phrases you may hear include:
These terms are often used to describe a range of outdoor activities, but can also refer to a specific type of ecotherapy program.“Participating in a subsidized gardening project changed my life and saved the life of my partner who attempted suicide four times before he had hope again.”
Ecotherapy saved my life
“I met other people with similar problems and it soon became a very supportive environment.”
What happens in ecotherapy?
Ecotherapy can take place in both rural and urban settings, including parks, gardens, farms, and forests. These are different amounts of physical activity depending on the type of program.It may include activities that focus on:
working in nature, such as a conservation, gardening, or farming project
experiencing nature, such as exploring the sights on a hike or bike ride through the forest
spending time with others in in nature, such as preparing and sharing meals together.
Some ecotherapy sessions follow a fixed structure. Others may be more informal or vary depending on the time of year and the work to be done. People in the group may or may not have experience of mental health issues, but the main focus is often working together on the shared activity.
What types of ecotherapy programs are there?
Ecotherapy programs can include a wide range of activities. For example:
Adventure Therapy consists of physical adventure activities in a group, such as B. Rafting, climbing or caving.
Animal-assisted interventions involve staying in places, such as farms, where you can interact with animals and spend relaxed time feeding or petting them.
Animal-assisted therapy involves establishing a therapeutic relationship with animals such as horses or dogs.
Nursing farming or therapeutic farming activities include caring for livestock, growing crops, or helping to manage forests. Contact Social Farms and Gardens for more information.
The preservation of the environment includes the protection and maintenance of natural spaces. Conservation Volunteers run unique and ongoing local projects. You can also join the Green Gyms, which combine physical exercise with conservation tasks.Green movement therapy involves movement in the countryside. For example walking, running or cycling.
Learn more about Walking for Health and the Ramblers.
Natural handicrafts or creating art in or with nature. It can include creating art in green spaces, using the environment for inspiration, or using natural materials like wood, grass, or clay.Social and therapeutic gardening includes gardening, growing food, or spending time with flowers or plants. It can take place in community lots or gardens, or in buildings such as town halls or libraries. Learn about gardening, soil work and thriving.
Nature Therapy involves spending time in nature and engaging in group activities. For example building shelters and hiking.Learn more from the Wilderness Foundation.