Environmental Arts Therapy
Environmental Arts Therapy can be understood as therapy that works with natural materials in natural environments through the unfolding year. In this way, nature can be seen as 'another room' or context as well as 'co-therapist' for the therapy.
In the traditional context of Art Therapy practice, the three-way relationship process (i.e. the art, psychotherapist, and client) happens indoors. However, in Environmental Arts Therapy, art psychotherapists are working outdoors, in ways where nature is 'co-therapist' to the process, just as art making is co-therapist within Art Therapy.
'A central feature of ecological therapy is taking clients out of doors and "into nature" – working with the client outdoors but taking the indoors framework of psychotherapy with us… Equally, it is possible to bring the out-of-doors indoors'. (N. Totton, 2012)
Environmental Arts Therapy includes the multiplicity of meanings nature holds for the clients: exploring narratives of connectivity and resilience in nature: working with internal and external issues, listening to and being receptive to nature, as a living process: supporting clients to reposition their sense of themselves within 'the bigger picture'.
Being outdoors allows the therapy process to be experienced across a range of domains (internal/external, self/other, concrete/symbolic, felt/imagined, soma/psyche). It is an embodied process. It helps to develop a deeper relationship with nature and the natural world having a deeply powerful impact on us, facilitating an increased sense of agency and helping establish on-going strategies to cope with personal difficulties.
Eco Psychologists remind us that as a species we are co-created in nature and as individuals we cannot exist, or be understood, without the wider systems we belong to because of this biological bond with the natural world. (Rust & Totton 2012)
Some of the benefits that modern research have discovered when being outdoors in nature are:
- Reduction of anxiety, anger, depression, obesity, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- Restoration of focus and attention span
- Increase of energy and vitality
- Increase of sensory awareness and perception
- Increase of self-esteem, empathy, kindness and compassion
- Fostering of healthier ageing
- Calms the nervous system
When nature is brought in to the therapeutic frame, we directly introduce widening circles of our relational world and working with aspects of connection with and separation from those wider circles of rationality is at the core of Environmental Arts Therapy.
Jones, V. (2015). The Greening of Psychotherapy. BAAT Newsbriefing, July 2015
Jones, V. https://www.vanessajones.org/what-is-ecotherapy
Ivens, S. (2018). Forest Therapy
I am a fully qualified Art Psychotherapist and comply with Health and Safety regulations highlighting clearly issues to be aware of in the outside environment. Therefore, offering participants the opportunity to work safely outdoors in nature.
I offer my services to charity organisations, schools, hospices and mental health/wellbeing centres. It can be NHS referrals or self-referrals. Sessions are suitable for clients living with mental health conditions, including dementia, anxiety, stress, depression and social isolation. I offer the opportunity to work safely outdoors, and with nature, weaving in these wider perspectives into a clear and boundaried psychotherapy relationship.
If you are interested in engaging with Environmental Arts Therapy or think members of your organisation/school would benefit from it, please contact me at or call on 07715601222
Before working together it is advisable to have an assessment meeting. This is an opportunity to meet with me to consider what the best approach would be for your individual needs. This will cost £25 for 50 minutes.
If you agree that Environmental Arts Therapy would be beneficial for you then it would be expected that you commit to once a week outdoor sessions for at least 6 months (regardless of the weather). Sessions cost £45 for 50 minutes.
For group work (5 to 8 people), sessions cost £25 (per person) for 2 hours.