Environmental Therapy as an Emerging Therapeutic Method

Environmental therapy is a therapeutic tool aimed at treating both physical health and mental health issues by detoxifying the body. The basic idea behind environmental therapy, also known as ecotherapy, is that the human beings are connected to the natural environment and are influenced by the changes taking place in the external environment due to the presence of environmental toxins. Detoxification of the body through outdoor activities is the mainstay of environmental therapy.


The Rationale for Environmental Therapy

In the past few decades, the deterioration of the environment has not only wreaked havoc for natural ecosystems but also led to proliferation of a wide range of diseases among human beings due to a deadly cocktail of toxins, allergens, microorganisms and other types of stimuli. The result has been the rapid increase in different types of cancers, chronic allergies, asthma, anxiety, depression and other ailments. BetterHelp has more information on psychotherapy for anxiety.

Going back to nature is the buzzword these days, and ecotherapy is also based on the same concept. The diseases caused by environmental factors are difficult to understand using the standard scientific methodologies due to the complexities associated with environmental parameters. Environmental therapy endeavours to solve environment-related health issues by making a connection with the Nature and its systems.

Environmental therapists believe that the Nature has a self-balancing mechanism which works through a complex web of natural phenomenon and if human beings can be in harmony with the natural elements, they can improve physical health as well as mental health. According to environmental therapy, the well-being of the mankind and well-being of the Planet are inter-connected.

Many studies have shown that a direct interaction with Nature has the potential to improve physical health, mental health and life satisfaction. In short, people should more time in green environs to experience the healing touch of Nature. For example, the presence of indoor plants in a workplace has been proven to positively affect creativity and productivity.

Modes of Environmental Therapy

Environmental therapy encompasses a wide range of nature-based healing approaches which may be carried out individually or under the guidance of a therapist in groups. It is advised to conduct ecotherapy in natural settings to obtain the best results.

Some of the popular environmental therapy activities are mentioned below:

1. Nature meditation

Nature is rejuvenating and has a tremendous power to uplift our spirits. Nature mediation is a group-based activity which usually takes place in a natural setting, such as a park or wilderness. Meditating in nature activates our senses which assists in mindfulness training and propels the individual to contemplate how a particular aspect of nature relates him to and what he can learn from it.

For example, a senior may regain self-respect after observing how old trees provide shelter for birds and shade for younger plants and passers-by.

2. Horticultural therapy

It involves engagement of a person in gardening-related activities to achieve specific therapeutic goals and to promote well-being. The key activities include digging soil, planting, maintaining garden beds, trimming leaves and mowing grass. Horticulture therapy is particularly useful for cases of social isolation, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.

Some studies have found that horticultural therapy aids is faster recovery and improves mood, leading to shorter stays for patients in mental health facilities and hospitals.

3. Animal-assisted therapy

It involves the use of animals as a tool to help in the healing process. The major goal of pet therapy is to help people cope with physical and mental ailments by using the concept of human-animal bond.  For example, playing with a dog may reduce aggression and agitation in some individuals. You can read more on how psychiatric service dogs can be helpful for people with mental health issues or disabilities in this article.

4. Physical activity in a natural environment

Physical exercise in a natural environment has the potential to provide greater mental and physical rejuvenation than elsewhere. Physical activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, or doing yoga in a park foster increased awareness of the natural ecosystems and can reduce stress, anxiety and anger.


5. Involvement in conservation activities

Conservation of natural ecosystems, usually done in groups, is a therapeutic treatment to can assist in creating a sense of belonging and connectedness with the natural world. The key aims of conservation activities is to protect, preserve and restore biodiversity.

Bottom Line

Understanding the importance of nature can not only improve our physical and mental health but also help us to preserve it. Environmental therapy is an alternative therapeutic method to improve our well-being, besides assisting us to reduce our ecological footprint, conserve nature, and connect with nature.

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About Salman Zafar

Salman Zafar is the Founder of EcoMENA, and an international consultant, advisor, ecopreneur and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Salman has successfully accomplished a wide range of projects in the areas of biomass energy, biogas, waste-to-energy, recycling and waste management. He has participated in numerous conferences and workshops as chairman, session chair, keynote speaker and panelist. Salman is the Editor-in-Chief of EcoMENA, and is a professional environmental writer with more than 300 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. Salman Zafar can be reached at salman@ecomena.org or salman@bioenergyconsult.com

One Response to Environmental Therapy as an Emerging Therapeutic Method

  1. Pingback: How Nature Can Help Your Mental Health - The Community on Friday

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