Nature & Ecopsychology
Ecopsychology (or Eco-psychotherapy), is an approach that explores the intricate interconnection between the human psyche and the natural world. Ecopsychology recognises that as human beings, we are not separate from nature; we are deeply intertwined with it. Our well-being and wholeness are intimately linked to the health of the planet. This perspective acknowledges that the ecological crises we face today are not solely environmental, but also deeply psychological and spiritual in nature.
On a personal note, this has been a focus of my work since my time as an art student. Out walking one day in the valleys of south Wales, I noticed how some landscapes scarred by mining had begun to regenerate, grassing over, some wildlife returning. I realised that there is an innate tendency towards healing and wholeness in Nature, which seemed to correspond with similar qualities in the human psyche. Then questions arose of how to hold both the love for the beauty and wonder in Nature, with the grief and anguish about what has been damaged or lost.
Building upon the wisdom of depth psychology, Ecopsychology invites us to explore the ways in which our psychological well-being is influenced by our relationship with the natural world. It recognizes that disconnection from nature can lead to a sense of alienation, despair, and a longing for something that is missing in our lives. Through Ecopsychology, we seek to heal this disconnection and foster a sense of belonging, reciprocity, and reverence for the Earth.
Jungian psychology, with its emphasis on the interconnectedness of all life, plays a significant role in Eco-psychotherapy. Drawing upon Jung's concepts of the collective unconscious, archetypes, and the symbolism of dreams, we delve into the profound relationship between the human psyche and the natural world. By engaging with the images, symbols and experiences that emerge from our encounters with nature, we tap into a deep well of wisdom and guidance, facilitating our personal growth and instinct to care for the more-than-human-world.
Ecopsychology embraces the understanding that nature itself is a powerful source of healing and transformation. Whilst it is now well researched that spending time in natural environments is beneficial for our physical and mental wellbeing, we must be careful that our attitude towards what Nature might offer regarding our personal healing, does not become just another example of humanity 'on the take'. If we approach stunning landscapes, gentle woodlands, and animals as something whose main purpose is to make us feel better, this reduces Nature to a resource for humans to use as we see fit, and begins to resemble the kind of thinking which caused so much destruction in the first instance. In my personal opinion, good evidence of how far humans have strayed from living within Nature is the very fact that evidence through scientific research was needed to prove the benefits to ourselves!
Incorporating art and creativity into Ecopsychology is a natural extension of my approach. Art-making can serve as a bridge between the human psyche and the natural world, facilitating a deepening of our relationship with the Earth. Through artistic expression inspired by nature, we honor the beauty and wisdom of the natural world, while also expressing our emotions, insights, and visions for a future we might want. Art becomes a transformative tool for ecological self-discovery and a catalyst for nurturing a more harmonious relationship with the Earth. There seems something important about completing this circle; 'I' as a part of Nature myself, am inwardly inspired by the wider web of the natural world, and then find a way to give expression to this through an outer form such as imagery, the written word, sculpture, movement, and so on.
Although my therapy practice is studio based at the present time, I am passionate about offering a space for individuals to explore their relationship with the more-than-human world, connecting with the healing power of nature and cultivating a sense of belonging. By integrating the principles of depth psychology, spirituality, myth, and creativity, we embark on a journey of reconnecting with the Earth. Together, we honor the interdependence of the human psyche and the environment, seeking personal and planetary healing as we navigate the challenges of the ecological crisis.