Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind Book Review

Ecotherapy: Healing Nature with the Mind written by Craig Chalquist and edited by Linda Buzzell is a collection of ecotherapy essays. The essays explore nature and its uses with traditional psychotherapy. Although written in 2009, it remains a core text for the ecotherapy field. It explores both the scientific findings of ecotherapy and different therapy modalities.

About the Authors

Craig Chalquist is a professor, author, and a Certified Master Gardener. He holds a certificate in Permaculture Design and was responsible for instituting the first ever Ecotherapy Certificate in the world. Mr. Chalquist is considered a leading expert in the field of ecotherapy.  He, with Linda Buzzell who herself founded the International Association for Ecotherapy, compiled and edited the book for Sierra Club.

Linda, is also a pioneer in the field. She is a practicing psychotherapist specializing in ecotherapy since 2000. She is a professor, writer and leading researcher in the field.

Ecotherapy-Natures Cures

The premise of this book and ecotherapy in general is that spending time in nature has both healing and restorative powers to our mind and our body. These collected essays update previous information found in the 1995 book Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind. It also further explores the connection between our mind and the natural environment.

The included essays highlight aspects as diverse as shaman healing rituals, wilderness therapy and environmental activism. But all seem to fit and the essays bring forth an interesting perspective and many topics to explore. Much of the information in the essays is scientifically proven. This book gives you a great view of ecotherapy and its potential uses. 

The book is broken into five main sections which makes it easy to reference a particular part of ecotherapy. Each section explores the psyche environmental connection and gives some practical ways to apply them. Both clinicians and regular people can find sound advice and interesting ways to think about how our environment impacts our well-being. 

Nature as Therapy

There is no doubt that exploring nature on our own brings a calming, more centered feeling. So how can we use that to heal? The writings call us to really think about how necessary the outside natural world is to our well-being both in mind and body. In today’s world most of us have to be intentional about getting outside and allowing ourselves to let the outside heal the inside.

The great thing about reading the essays in this book is that it shows us one size doesn’t fit all. You do not need a background in ecology or psychology to understand the connection between ourselves and the natural environment. There are many ways to think about and practice ecotherapy. Wilderness therapy, animal therapy and even gardens have the capacity to heal us in real, tangible ways. 

In today’s society we lack the simple pleasure of digging in the dirt, walking outside in nature and otherwise letting our mind relax. This has all sorts of implications for the diseases that plague us and certainly warrants our further exploration of the subject. There are real benefits for seeking nature. We see this played out in our relationships with each other as partners, parents and as good humans of this world. The mind-nature connection is important to our overall well-being and we would be wise to not forget it.

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