An exploration of nature therapy and the application of ecopsychological ideas in theraputic practice

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Timoney, Laura
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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According to Jung and others, a changing relationship to the natural world has brought about a loss of connection. The outer disconnection between man and nature is also reflected in man’s disconnection from his own inner self. In his work Jung explores the innate connection the human psyche has to nature through the collective unconscious. The aim of this research paper is to explore Jungian theory and Nature Therapy as a therapeutic tool in which ecopsychological ideas are introduced into a therapeutic practice. The benefits of nature to stimulate restorative and healing effects on the human psyche are recognised, these effects support positive change at both psychological and physiological levels of our being. Jung’s ideas have also informed the theoretical foundation of ecopsychology, which explores the relationship between the natural world and human beings through ecological and psychological principles. According to the biophilia theory, nature is rooted in our genetic biology and it argues that it is this biological programming which connects us to the natural world. It maintains the perception that humans and the natural environment are not separate from one another but are connected through the genetic hard wiring of the human psyche. According to Jung the purpose of returning to nature is to invite and allow nature to heal us (Carl Gustav Jung, 2002, p. 19) This dissertation concludes that nature therapy or the ‘return to nature, to heal’, encompasses the application of ecopsychological ideas into a therapeutic practice. Nature therapy is a form of therapy which relies on the natural environment to achieve therapeutic goals. Not only is nature the venue but also an active part in the therapeutic process used to address the underlying disconnection between humans and their ecological home.