What is Ecopsychology?
The word Ecopsychology comes from:
The Greek 'eco/oikos' for 'house/dwelling' and 'ecology' meaning the interconnected natural symbiotic relationships
and 'Psychology' is interpreted as the health of 'soul/spirit'
"Ecopsychology studies the relationship between human beings and the natural environment through both ecological and psychological principles. Ecopsychology seeks to develop and understand ways of expanding the emotional connection between individuals and the natural environment, thereby assisting individuals with developing sustainable lifestyles and remedying alienation from nature." - Blaschke, 2013: 3. Buzzell & Chalquist 2009; Milfont 2012
Ecopsychology is NOT conventional psychology.
Ecopsychology is a term founded by Theodore Roszak and stems from the belief that human beings are Nature and not separate from our natural world:
"Ecopsychology holds that there is a synergistic interplay between planetary and personal well-being." In his book The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology (1992) Theodore Roszak writes; 'Its goal is to bridge our culture’s long-standing, historical gulf between the psychological and the ecological, to see the needs of the planet and the person as a continuum. In search of greater sanity, it begins where many might say sanity leaves off: at the threshold of the nonhuman world.' "Other therapies seek to heal the alienation between person and person, person and family, person and society. Ecopsychology seeks to heal the more fundamental alienation between the person and the natural environment.”
(Theodore Roszak, 1993)
How is Ecopsychology applied?
Ecopsychology can be integrated into any aspect of life. Applied ecopsychology is a systems-thinking, experience-based, educative approach to the methodology of reconnecting humans with our natural world.
Ecopsychology looks to the past, to Nature and indigenous cultures to understand why we may have moved away from being a life-affirming species. Humans have transitioned to a great extent towards a consumer-based, extraction model with linear thinking, and seeing ourselves as separate from nature, often as a more superior species. This shift has led to the climate and ecological collapse, the greatest challenge of our time which affects everyone and everything. Ecopsychology therefore works towards re-connecting people to nature, to a systems-thinking approach of sensing oneself as a part of the intricate, woven, web of life.
We ask, how can humans reshape our world for the better? How can humans bring forth their greatest individual and collective potential as part of a large living system?
Ecopsychologists often work outdoors rather than indoors. Methodology and practices may be incorporated in any life of work situation. Ecopsychologists may be found in consulting positions such as health and well-being, education, community initiatives, sustainability and regenerative practices, art and creative ventures, horticulture and permaculture, ecology, architecture, and urban planning.
Interacting with Nature and simply being outdoors or emersed within nature effects our body by reducing stress levels and blood pressure amongst many other researched benefits. It is inherent that we have beneficial relationships with nature because we are a part of nature, we have evolved from our natural world within this planet.
It’s in our DNA to long for and recognise our kinship with other life forms which shape our relationships, responses, choices and sense of belonging and purpose.
“With awareness of self and nature connectedness, I realize that we humans are nature. Nature, when we are conscious of its invisible links will shift our consciousness to heal us, balance and teach us. We can then at least make informed conscious decisions.” - Student comment
Multi-sensory methods, tools, and exercises make up an ecopsychology practice to gently guide and reconnect individuals to align interrelationships as a part of the whole living system. Ecopsychology practices do not focus on providing information, rather providing tools and experiences for you to experience yourself as part of a whole living system.
When we sense our belonging in our planet's biosphere, our universe, and sense all the interconnected living systems, we see ourselves as connected to all that is. From this perspective we then understand the laws of our planet are sacred and with respect can choose pro-environmental actions and moderate our behaviours coming from a life-affirming well of energy based on love, appreciation and belonging.
Ecopsychology practices offer various tools and experiences that allow individuals to explore, connect, and relate to their ecological self and the world we inhabit. These practices also provide opportunities for reflection, creativity expression, and making sense of personal experiences. Applied ecopsychology is the practical application of ecopsychology methodology, which provides individuals with the chance to experience a broad range of benefits, from sensing the wellness that comes from being in nature to gaining insights and finding solutions to profound experiences of the anima mundi, the soul of the world.
Deb studied Ecopsychology and Eco-Art Therapy with Project NatureConnect and associated universities from 2012 -2017. She continues to mentor and facilitate Eco-Art therapy groups and apply ecopsychology in Greensong practices. She incorporates ecopsychology as a life-way in all aspects of current employment, workshops and consulting positions within health and wellbeing, educational, environmental, and conservation practices. Workshops and events are offered and tailoring sessions are encouraged so clients gain the most from the session. Deb guides with an applied ecopsychology practice called The Natural Systems Thinking Process. (NSTP) The participant often gains therapeutic benefits of being in and with nature, sense the inclusive, collaborative, non-judgemental, reciprocal, present moments that nature naturally gifts us with.
Project NatureConnect Ecopsychology
Project NatureConnect has been researching and conducting education programs and healing with nature for over 50 years and the organization is at the forefront of Eco-psychology and Natural Attraction Ecology. (NAE) It was founded and developed by awarded 1994 Distinguished World Citizen and Ecopsychologist, Dr. Michael J. Cohen over 50 years ago.
PNC Mission Statement: We dedicate ourselves to help any individual learn how to create authentic sensory Ecotherapy moments that let Earth teach. To this end we offer holistic methods and materials that remedy our destructive disconnection from nature and help the United Nations meet its manifesto for sustainable personal and global peace, environmentally sound education and social justice.
The Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) was developed by Michael J. Cohen is at the heart of Project NatureConnect’s Applied Ecopsychology and Eco-Art programs. Natural attraction relationships hold everything together from sub-atomic particles to systems in our body to environmental ecosystems. The NSTP is a framework for how the natural universe communicates its non-verbal, multi-sensory intelligence through the Web of Life and how humans can reconnect to learn, receive counsel, balance and healing wisdom. The Natural Systems Thinking Process (NSTP) assists us to 'tune-in', become more receptive and mindful as we explore multi-sensing reciprocal relationships. Eco-art therapy acknowledges the role of an embodied nature experience with creative expression. The 'intent/contemplative' section and 'creative expression' stages are altered according to the intent of the season, event, space/location, individual or group. The Natural Systems Thinking Process methodology provides a resonating, multi-sensing inquiry into the presence that embodies our natural world, and of that which we are intrinsically a part of. The 54 Natural Senses are an essential part of this practice as they open up a whole deep and intricate multisensory world that is always here, it's just often we have not explored it in detail before.
"The core of the science and process of Natural Attraction Ecology, an application of Ecopsychology, is that from its inception, the essence of our Universe has been to build natural attraction relationships. Natural Attraction can be empirically identified, sensed and felt as the heart of responsible attachments between all things. It's a fundamental of the place all things come from. an intelligence that all things 'consciously' share with each other in balanced ways.Natural Attraction Ecology benefits our lives by enabling our psyche to habitually make sensory connections to nature into a permanent and therapeutic way of thinking and feeling. It gives us the motivation and ability to continually join our heart, mind and spirit with authentic nature's healing ways and strengthen ourselves and nature in the process. The natural attraction process of Educating, Counseling and Healing with Nature (ECHN) helps us remedy our loss of nature's renewing grace in our senses, thinking and feeling. It enables us to scientifically discover, sense and feel who we are with respect to the whole of life and its wellness.ECHN empowers us, moment by moment, to let conscious sensory contact with nature's purifying flow satisfy and strengthen our body, mind and spirit. It is an integral ecology, a natural attraction-based psychology that helps us enjoy our satisfactions in ways that satisfy and sustain all of the natural world while reversing fraud or corruption. It helps us increase our happiness reasonably, in a good way, meaning, "To the benefit of all."The more that the unifying touch of nature helps us think and feel in balance, the more the world enjoys the peace of well-being." - Michael J. Cohen (Project NatureConnect)
Reconnecting with our ancestral wisdom
Some indigenous cultures have been able to continue their cultural practices and rituals deeply rooted in the sacredness of all life.
Ecopsychologists seek to reconnect people with this sacredness, the ability to multi-sense our earth, to 'tune-in' to our innate ecological self, sense our belonging, and reciprocal relationships with nature, as part of nature. If we remember our place and who we are, we can relate within our interspecies relationships with compassion, trust, respect and love, an understanding that diversity is essential to resilience and all lifeforms flourishing. Many indigenous human populations lived with respectful relationships spanning thousands of years. Tenalach is the Gaelic word meaning 'a oneness with nature allowing you to hear the song of the Earth' Didirri is one word used by some of Australia's first nations people.
Both words suggest a similarity with Ecopsychology methods and practices that 'tune' us in with Nature on a very deep level to the relationships within our belonging. This innate connection exists in our very BEing since time began regardless of our ancestors, there is no better time for us to re-awaken as a species and share in these reciprocal relationships, wisdom and actions.
“Dadirri is inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. Dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call ‘contemplation’. When I experience dadirri, I am made whole again. I can sit on the riverbank or walk through the trees; even if someone close to me has passed away, I can find my peace in this silent awareness. There is no need of words. A big part of dadirri is listening….In our Aboriginal way, we learnt to listen from our earliest days. We could not live good and useful lives unless we listened. This was the normal way for us to learn - not by asking questions. We learnt by watching and listening, waiting and then acting….My people are not threatened by silence. They are completely at home in it. They have lived for thousands of years with Nature’s quietness. My people today, recognise and experience in this quietness, the great Life-Giving Spirit, the Father of us all… Another part of dadirri is ‘the quiet stillness and the waiting,’ Our Aboriginal culture has taught us to be still and to wait. We do not try to hurry things up. We let them follow their natural course - like the seasons.”
- Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann Watch and listen: You tube
What is ecotherapy?
Ecotherapy is participating in an activity in nature with an aim of a therapeutic outcome.
“Ecotherapy is an umbrella term for nature-based methods of physical and psychological healing.”
Ecotherapies may be prescriptive, educational and/or an experiential practice to engage participants with nature for greater health and wellbeing. Practices are repeatable and practical fostering a deeper connection to selves, our community and natural world.
Applied ecopsychology elements may be interwoven within these models: wilderness therapy, rewilding, transpersonal therapy, sacred ecology, spiritual ecology, adventure therapy, bush therapy, outdoor therapy, green care, forest therapy, forest bathing, nature-based therapy/counseling, outdoor healthcare, nature-reconnecting, nature mindfulness, nature meditation, shamanism, systems thinking, quantum theories, nature psychotherapy, horticultural therapy, animal-assisted therapy, and/or nature-based therapy.
All Greensong practices focus on the individual or group intent, aim or challenge, please contact to explore possibilities. Nature-Guided Walks are designed as a mini-escape from our everyday busy lifestyles. Partipants are guided with practices to deeply tune into the local natural world that is surrounding where we live, work or play.
More about Ecopsychology and the illusion on seperateness
When we examine the psychological processes that bond us to the natural world or separate ‘us’ from ‘it;’ we may see ourselves as part of nature or separate.
Perceiving ourselves as separate from nature has led to many personal, community, cultural and planetary issues. When we view our planet as separate, we see our Earth as an 'it,' as a resource. Nature-separated thinking and actions have resulted in an illusion of separation. This separated belief has permitted our species to unconsciously and consciously damage, destroy and exploit nature. This has resulted in a severe imbalance in our planetary systems. The capitalist systems dominating our planet with an exploitative growth-model focus on power and profit, and is resulting in the highest rates of species extinction in recorded human history. We are now living in tour planet's 6th mass extinction.
An ecopsychology perspective is that we are all intrinsically woven and interdependent, we reply on collaboration and our planet and universe are always evolving. The integrated unified whole is the common thread of Ecopsychology, Sacred Ecology, Deep Ecology, Natural Attraction Ecology, Spiritual Ecology, Systems Thinking and Sacred Ecology.
"Ecopsychology has emerged over the past several years as an intellectual and social movement that seeks to understand and heal our relationship with the Earth. It examines the psychological processes that bond us to the natural world or that alienate us from it... We need to uncover ways to heal the culture as well as the individuals who live in it. Ecopsychology is essentially about becoming cultural healers." -Ecopsychologist Mary Gomes (ReVisioning Vol 20 #4. 1998)
Ecopsychology Voices video series demonstrate the various methods of integrating applied ecopsychology into lifestyles and career opportunities.
“Ecopsychology represents a social-therapeutic environmental philosophy arguing that reconnection with nature is essential, not only for the maintenance of the physical world (habitats, animals, plants, landscape and cultures) but also for people's basic well-being” (Roszak, 2001; Roszak et al.., 1995;Totton, 2003).