Nature Allied Psychotherapy
I am currently offering therapeutic sessions in nature, integrating concepts from my training with The Nature Therapy School.
What is Nature Allied Psychotherapy?
Nature Allied Psychotherapy was developed by Psychotherapist and Supervisor, Beth Collier who has an expertise in woodland living skills, traditional ecological knowledge with anthropological and spiritual perspectives.
Training is in-depth and involves living outside, building shelter, developing woodland skills and ethnography (studying peoples and cultures, with their customs, habits, and mutual differences).
Therapists in training learn to develop their relationship with nature which models a safe connection for working with clients in therapeutic and natural settings.
The training considers practices of exclusion due to a person’s intersectionality, which may interrupt their engagement with nature. This experiential, academic and inclusive approach drew me to train with The Nature Therapy School.
An ethos of Nature Allied Psychotherapy is to work in depth with nature to explore your emotional world, supporting you to heal, find identity, a sense of belonging and embodiment in direct contemplation with nature (Collier, 2021,The Nature Therapy School).
I practice Nature Allied Psychotherapy applying creative methods with a relational and embodied approach. I explore relational trauma including traumas connected to our intersectionality (ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, spirituality).
Who is Nature Allied Psychotherapy for?
Nature based therapy is for everyone, whether you are familiar or unfamiliar in nature. My practice invites you to develop your curiosity and relationship with nature. I offer a free 20-minute consultation to think about how nature allied psychotherapy may work for you.
How can Nature Allied Psychotherapy help?
‘Feeling lost within ourselves, our environment and in our relationships.’
Often, we can feel powerless led by external pressures and adapting to the demands of others in our social, family, and professional lives.
‘Therapeutic work in nature grounds you, supports you to find your feet, your stability, your safety and lessens the pull to adapt to others.’
As you develop your relationship with nature, you may begin to ‘weather’ all that she brings/all that you bring. This releases your potential for the parallel development of self-knowledge and knowledge about nature, strengthening the union between you and nature.
‘You may notice that you simply notice nature more mobilising your soul as you converse with the nature with/in you.’
As you notice a developing intimacy with yourself, you begin to actively listen to yourself, deservedly so. You can begin to let go of external directives while trusting your potential and innate wisdom to find ‘what you need.’
Nature may act as a rehearsal to strengthen your relational capacity where relationships with others begin to feel safer and less threatening.
Developing an Observer Self
‘Nature is non-judgmental, and your guide will be your therapist alongside nature as a co-therapist supporting your autonomous discoveries as you observe yourself in/with nature.’
As you focus on what you are ‘noticing’ you become more aware of you ‘noticing’ - whether this is an object, a sound, a smell, taste, touch offering you ‘distance’ from painful thoughts and sensations.
Therapy in nature is an embodied and sensory experience, like a picture book evoking memories and associations, offering you parallel metaphors to speak about your experience. For instance, a flock of birds flying past may synchronise with a story of migration or clouds in the sky may remind you of a particular event or your relationship.
Trauma and Nature
‘Human health is dependent on a healthy relationship with nature, when a disconnection occurs our wellbeing will suffer’ (Collier, 2021).
The global pandemic has triggered our emotional world severing our contact with others. We may have lost loved ones or experience unresolved emotions rising to the surface leaving us depressed and anxious.
For others the stillness may have brought relief from busy lives or needing to interact with others particularly if relationships can feel threatening.
You may have experienced nature as a support during these difficult times offering relief from anxieties or regulating a low mood.
When we work therapeutically in nature, we are engaging all our senses This may be an energising or emotional experience, that’s ok, nature is supporting the recovery of your emotional capacity which you may have repressed to survive your environment.
We hold our stress in our body, nerves, skin, and bones. Simply moving our bodies in nature can unlock us from the ‘freeze’ survival mode.
A breeze, the sound of bird song, the smell of woodlands may interrupt painful sensations allowing them to dissolve more quickly. Nature offers you containment as you engage in the immediacy of the here and now and ‘savour’ moments of regulation.
Neuroscience and Anthropological perspectives tell us we are social creatures. We come into this world hardwired to connect and feel safe, in our bodies, our environment and in our relationship with others. Our ancestors and indigenous populations fully understood this and caution us of the imbalance we may feel, isolated from the natural world and community, with an increase in our mental health crisis.
Traumatic experiences can interrupt our need for connection. We may lose our capacity to trust ourselves or others.
Neuroscience recognises that nature can regulate our autonomic nervous system. This is the system that ‘scans’ for safety, threat and danger, enabling us to move closer to others if we are feeling safe or withdraw to protect ourselves if we sense danger or threat. All these modes of survival act to protect us but may also interrupt our full engagement with life.
Often when we experience the regulatory capacities of nature our heart rate slows down, we experience a sense of ease within our body/mind which translates to our encounters with others.
The hopeful news - our autonomic nervous system can encode increased moments of safety, just in the way it has encoded threat, increasing our resilience to navigate life’s stressors and relationships.
Therapeutic work in nature has the potential to develop into a secure base for you. She is available, responsive, attuned and is here for you in-between sessions and long after therapy has ended.
Collier, B. Nature Allied Psychotherapy; Exploring Relationships with Self, Others and Nature. Routledge, 2021
These sessions take place at a beautiful woodland park in London.
Your first step is to arrange an initial consultation, contact me, give me a call on 07946 5122 78 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.