The emergence of Eco-therapies to reconnect people to nature in response to nature-disconnected problems reflects our current global perspectives of climate change and the psychological distress from political and consumerist agendas and lack of action. With the predicted rise of psychological and environmental problems, logically a Nature-based solution facilitated by Eco-therapists aware of these current issues would be a great asset.
Increasing environmental disasters and related factors are predicted to influence our economical, physical and psychological health. Therapists will be required to find creative solutions when working with people to maintain health and wellbeing. “An estimated 200 million Americans will be exposed to serious psychological distress from climate related events and incidents: The severity of symptoms will vary, but in many instance the distress will be great.” (Kevin J. Coyle J. L., 2011)
To establish goals and rational of Eco-Art Therapy and Applied Ecopsychology, it is useful to explore the origins of the fields Ecology, Eco-Art and Art Therapy. Eco-Art Therapy combines aspects from amalgamating these disciplines and utilizes aspects as a powerful modality for self-discovery and healing.
Ecology refers to the ‘economies’ of living forms, the scientific analysis and study of interactions among organisms and their environment. (Sarkar, 2005) Contemporary ecologies unite many sub-disciplines however, within the context of Ecopsychology and Eco-Art Therapy principle considerations are from the realm of the behavioral aspects, evolutionary ecology, ecosystems and conservation.
Eco-Artists often have an understanding of ecology and use creative techniques often with consideration to natural materials to create their Eco-Art. Contemporary Eco-Art may reflect the artists’ imaginative interpretation from awareness and responses to Ecological concerns.
Weintraub relates to Eco-Artists as having content enriched by the artistic imagination and license in response to decline of ecosystems, climate change, resource depletion and loss of habitats. (Weintraub, 2012) Eco-Artists can be viewed as environmental activists drawing awareness to current environmental concerns regarding our planet Earth through the medium of creative expression.
Art Therapy is the use of art expression as a treatment for individuals working through issues such as physical pain and/or psychological trauma. People in such situations may find it easier to express their emotions and unconscious thoughts through non-threatening and nonverbal channels while building a trusting relationship with a trained therapist. Art exercises and materials are chosen for particular goals to assist creative expression, healing and transformation. Often mainstream Art Therapists interpret specifics within the artwork of placement, colour and content subject matter to diagnose aspects of wellbeing and experiences which may contribute to the participants’ problems. -
“We are biologically constructed to sense natural attractions.” (Cohen M. J., 1995) Observing psychological distress and increased natural disasters as an attraction, we are called to consider underlying issues. Eco-Art Therapy and Applied Eco-psychology facilitators guide participants to tune in to the multitude of sensory attractions and sense the belonging, balanced, restorative and supportive realm where insight is capable of transformation. Ecotherapies can assist to create greater harmony, balance and stability in people’s lives, leading them to greater insights regarding their sense of place and impact in the web of life.
Eco-Art Therapy and Applied Eco-psychology are a perfect marriage where nature-reconnecting and creating artworks symbiotically work to bring an innate flow of creativity and greater depth to the therapeutic experience. Individual self-discovery and wellbeing from the Eco-Art Therapy model demonstrate transformations which have potential to impact on greater health within community and our environment.
Eco-Art classes and workshops with Greensong offer interactions with the natural environment through exploring sensory connections and manifesting creative expression.
Desired intentions: • Explore natural attractions for therapeutic wellbeing (Relationships with self, community and environment)
• Create a physical expression consolidating the experience and offering further reflection, insights and wellbeing benefits • Promote individual and community health and ecological awareness
Cohen, M. J. (2003). The Web Of Life Imperative. Victoria, Canada.
Cohen, M. J. (1995). Reconnecting with Nature. Lakeville: Ecopress.
Heginworth, I. S. (2008). Environmental Arts Therapy and The Tree of Life.
Kevin J. Coyle, J. L. (2011). The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States and Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System Is Not Adequatly Prepared. National Wildlife Federation.
Sweeney, T. (2014) Eco-Art Therapy. Creative Activities That Let Earth Teach