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Nature Therapy and How It Helps

Discover the positive effect of nature-based interventions with our guide on Nature Therapy. Reap the psychological benefits.

By Karina Jimenea on Jun 16, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

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Nature Therapy

What is Nature Therapy?

When troubled by constant thoughts or a cluttered mind, the remedy often lies in one simple act: immersing oneself in nature. While stress and coping vary from one person to another, nature offers a sanctuary, a haven of tranquility and clarity.

Nature therapy, also known as ecotherapy or green therapy, is a therapeutic practice rooted in the belief that connecting with the natural environment can promote mental and physical well-being. Nature therapy stemmed from ecopsychology pioneered by Theodore Roszak. Nature therapy involves harnessing the inherent power of the natural world to encourage various mental health benefits and positive feelings, as well as to facilitate stress reduction and emotional healing.

Spending time in natural settings can yield many psychological and physiological benefits. From reducing physiological stress to alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety, nature therapy offers a holistic approach to healing. By immersing oneself in the natural world's sights, sounds, and sensations, individuals can experience a profound sense of rejuvenation and inner peace.

In today's fast-paced urban areas, where stress and anxiety abound, the importance of reconnecting with nature cannot be overstated. Nature therapy provides a vital antidote to the pressures of modern life, offering a path to healing and restoration through the simple act of communing with the natural world.

Types of Nature Therapy

Nature therapy encompasses various approaches to enhancing mental and physical health by engaging with the natural environment. From nature meditation to ecotherapy sessions, these interventions are designed to promote overall well-being and life satisfaction through the positive effects of nature immersion.

Horticultural therapy

The therapy involves engaging in agricultural activities to foster mental and physical health. Working with plants in natural environments like gardens provides therapeutic benefits like stress reduction, improved mood, and enhanced cognitive function. For example, individuals may participate in activities in natural spaces like gardening or crop cultivation as part of their therapy sessions, experiencing the therapeutic benefits of connecting with nature while engaging in physical exercise and mindfulness practices.

Animal-assisted therapy

Animal-assisted therapy utilizes interactions with animals to improve mental health and well-being. Whether it's spending time with therapy animals like dogs, horses, or even dolphins, these interactions can alleviate symptoms of mental health conditions. Through bonding with animals in natural settings, individuals can experience a sense of calm, companionship, and emotional support, enhancing their overall quality of life and promoting healing.

Adventure therapy

Adventure therapy involves outdoor activities and challenges to promote personal growth and well-being. Participants engage in hiking, rock climbing, or wilderness camping, fostering physical fitness and mental resilience. Through immersive experiences in natural settings, adventure therapy encourages individuals to confront fears, build confidence, and develop problem-solving skills, leading to improved mental health and emotional resilience.

Wilderness therapy

Wilderness therapy involves immersive experiences in natural environments to promote healing and personal growth. Participants engage in activities such as backpacking, wilderness survival skills, and group therapy sessions conducted outdoors. By disconnecting from technology and urban distractions and reconnecting with nature, individuals can gain a more profound self-awareness, improve interpersonal skills, and develop coping mechanisms for managing mental health challenges. This is often combined with therapeutic interventions,

Forest therapy

Forest therapy, also known as forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku, involves mindful immersion in natural forest environments to promote relaxation and well-being. Participants engage in guided walks or meditation practices amidst the sights, sounds, and smells of the forest, experiencing the therapeutic benefits of nature. Forest therapy can reduce stress hormones, boost the immune system, and improve mental health. 

10 Nature Therapy activities

Nature therapy offers many activities that harness the healing power of the natural world to promote well-being and inner peace. From serene walks in the woods to creative expressions amidst natural beauty, these activities nourish the body, mind, and soul.

  1. Nature walks: Stroll through natural landscapes such as forests, parks, or beaches to immerse yourself in the outdoor sights, sounds, and scents.
  2. Nature meditation: Find a quiet spot in nature to practice mindfulness meditation. Focus on your breath and surroundings to cultivate a sense of inner calm and mental clarity.
  3. Outdoor yoga: Roll out your yoga mat in a tranquil outdoor setting, allowing gentle movements and rhythmic breathing to harmonize with the natural environment, enhancing flexibility and reducing tension through physical activity.
  4. Nature journaling: Bring a journal or sketchbook on your outdoor adventures to capture your thoughts, observations, and reflections, fostering creativity and self-discovery amidst the beauty of nature and promoting positive attitudes.
  5. Wildlife observation: Spend time observing the flora and fauna around you, whether birdwatching in a local park or studying the intricate patterns of insects, deepening your connection to the natural world and fostering nature connectedness.
  6. Nature photography: Grab your camera or smartphone. Capture the beauty of nature through photography, focusing on the details and textures of landscapes, plants, and wildlife.
  7. Outdoor picnics: Pack a delicious meal and head outdoors for a picnic in a scenic location, enjoying nourishing food and good company amidst the serenity of nature, promoting positive associations with the outdoors.
  8. Nature crafts: Get creative with natural materials found in your surroundings, whether making flower crowns, weaving baskets from twigs, or crafting sculptures from driftwood, fostering a sense of connection and resourcefulness through nature-based therapy.
  9. Forest bathing: Engage in the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, by immersing yourself in the healing atmosphere of the forest, which promotes physical and mental health.
  10. Nature conservation: Participate in volunteer activities such as tree planting, trail maintenance, or beach cleanups to give back to the environment and cultivate a sense of stewardship and environmental responsibility, promoting environmental health and preventive medicine.

What are the benefits of Nature Therapy?

Nature therapy offers many health benefits for mental and physical well-being. Here are some of the many benefits of nature therapy:

  1. Reduces physiological stress: Spending time in green spaces or engaging in nature-related activities during a therapy session has been shown to reduce physiological stress responses in the body, leading to a greater sense of relaxation and calm.
  2. Enhances psychological well-being: Immersing oneself in a green environment can uplift mood and alleviate negative emotions, fostering a sense of peace and contentment.
  3. Promotes physical health: Walking in green and blue spaces or participating in outdoor exercises offers benefits such as improved cardiovascular health and increased physical fitness.
  4. Improves mental health: Nature therapy has been linked to improved mental health outcomes and increased resilience to stressors.
  5. Strengthens nature connection: Engaging with the natural environment fosters a deeper sense of connection with nature.

Is Nature Therapy effective?

Various studies have examined the effectiveness of nature immersion, with research from Serbia showcasing how horticulture therapy in urban green spaces significantly alleviates stress, depression, and anxiety amid urban challenges (Vujcic et al., 2017).

Similarly, a study by Olafsdottir et al. (2018) revealed that walking in nature outperforms other interventions in enhancing mood and reducing cortisol levels, particularly during stressful exam periods, underscoring the unique advantages of nature immersion in promoting well-being. Another form of nature therapy, Animal-assisted therapy (AAT), is also said to be beneficial for controlling pain in hospitalized children and teenagers (Feng et al., 2021).

Additionally, shinrin-yoku has emerged as a promising intervention for reducing anxiety in the short term, indicating its potential as a widely accepted therapeutic approach pending further research and evaluation (Kotera et al., 2020). These findings collectively underscore the profound impact of nature therapy on mental health and highlight its significance in modern treatment.

Why use Carepatron as your therapy software?

Nature therapy profoundly affects human health, offering a holistic approach to wellness by combining the benefits of physical activity with the restorative power of natural environments. As individuals seek solutions for mental disorders and strive to enhance their well-being, Carepatron offers invaluable support and resources.

At Carepatron, we understand the importance of holistic approaches to clinical practice, so we have tailored our therapy software to support therapists and their clients in integrating nature therapy programs into their wellness journeys.

  • Telehealth: Carepatron offers seamless telehealth capabilities, allowing therapists to connect with clients virtually from any natural setting, facilitating therapy sessions amidst the calming influence of the outdoors.
  • Guides: Our platform provides comprehensive guides on nature therapy, offering therapists and clients alike valuable insights and techniques for incorporating nature-based interventions into their therapeutic practices.
  • Therapy worksheets: Carepatron offers a vast library of therapy worksheets designed to complement therapy interventions, helping clients reflect on their experiences and track their progress.
  • EHR: With the electronic health record (EHR) system, therapists can securely document their clients' progress in integrating nature therapy into their treatment plans, ensuring comprehensive and therapeutically relevant records.
  • Appointment scheduling: Our user-friendly appointment scheduling feature makes it easy for therapists and clients to coordinate nature therapy sessions, ensuring timely access to the healing benefits of the outdoors.
  • Progress notes: The progress notes feature allows therapists to document the outcomes of a therapeutic intervention, fostering a deeper understanding of the therapeutic relationship and guiding future treatment decisions.

Join the Carepatron today and learn how our platform can empower you to harness the transformative power of nature therapy in your clinical practice.

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Feng, Y., Lin, Y., Zhang, N., Jiang, X., & Zhang, L. (2021). Effects of animal-assisted therapy on hospitalized children and teenagers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Pediatric Nursing60, 11–23.

Kotera, Y., Richardson, M., & Sheffield, D. (2020). Effects of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) and nature therapy on mental health: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction20(1).

Olafsdottir, G., Cloke, P., Schulz, A., van Dyck, Z., Eysteinsson, T., Thorleifsdottir, B., & Vögele, C. (2018). Health benefits of walking in nature: A randomized controlled study under conditions of real-life stress. Environment and Behavior52(3), 248–274.

Vujcic, M., Tomicevic-Dubljevic, J., Grbic, M., Lecic-Tosevski, D., Vukovic, O., & Toskovic, O. (2017). Nature based solution for improving mental health and well-being in urban areas. Environmental Research158(158), 385–392.

Commonly asked questions

What are the beneficial effects of nature therapy?

Nature therapy offers a range of benefits, including reduced stress, improved mood, and increased creativity.

How can I incorporate nature therapy into my daily life?

You can incorporate nature therapy into your routine by spending time outdoors, gardening, going for nature walks, or simply bringing natural elements into your indoor spaces.

Are there specific techniques or practices involved in nature therapy?

Nature therapy techniques can vary, but they often include mindfulness meditation in natural settings, outdoor recreation, wildlife observation, and ecotherapy sessions led by trained professionals.

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