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Nature-Based Therapy (PDF)
A Practitioner’s Guide to Working Outdoors with Children, Youth, and Families
The number of children, youth, and families seeking help for a wide range of mental health concerns is growing at an alarming rate, and many struggle to thrive despite well-intentioned interventions from skilled helpers. Unplugging from technology and reconnecting with the web of life is a powerful antidote to the highly technological and fast-paced realities of so many.
Nature-Based Therapy addresses this underlying disconnection between humans and their ecological home, exploring theories and therapeutic practices undertaken with children, youth, and families, including:
- Developing sensory awareness of outer and inner landscapes
- Navigating risk in play
- Case examples with a diverse range of settings, intentions, and interventions.
Nature-Based Therapy is for counselors, therapists, youth and social workers, educators, and parents working in educational and therapeutic settings who want to take their practice beyond the office walls and into the powerful terrain of the wild, partnering with nature as a co-facilitator to create lasting change.
Dr. Nevin J. Harper is an Associate Professor at the School of Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria. He is the founder of the Canadian Adventure Therapy Symposium, a founding board member of the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, and he researches human-environmental interactions, primarily through the practices of adventure therapy, wilderness therapy, and nature-based approaches to healing and wellbeing. He lives on Vancouver Island, Canada.
Kathryn Rose holds a Master's degree in Transpersonal Counselling Psychology, with a specialization in Wilderness Therapy, from Naropa University in Colorado and is registered with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. She has been discovering the joys of experiential and nature-based approaches to working with children, youth, and families for the promotion of healing and growth for over 10 years. Kathryn lives and practices in Victoria, Canada. humannaturecounselling.ca
David Segal holds a Master's degree in Child and Youth Care from the University of Victoria and is registered with the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. David offers presentations and workshops on cultivating health through contact with nature and has been contributing to the emerging field of eco-therapy through his work as a clinical counsellor serving youth and families. He lives and practices in Victoria, Canada. humannaturecounselling.ca
"Even in the toxic conditions created by the Industrial Growth Society, there is health and well-being to be found in opening ourselves to the web of life. Right now when we need it so much, these authors bring to our attention many wonderfully useful methods and tools, along with the stories of how they have been effective. Especially welcome is the authors' discussion of the value of risk-taking in our hyper-protective, soul-deadening society."
Joanna Macy, author, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess we're in without Going Crazy
"...offers an accessible, research-informed framework for conducting therapy out of doors, in ways that allow clients and service users to benefit from the multiple learning and healing opportunities afforded by open-ness to the natural world. Combining down-to-earth practical guidance, based on the extensive professional experience of the authors, with thoughtful and critical analysis of relevant theory and evidence from a wide range of disciplinary tradition, this is essential reading for anyone undertaking this kind of work."
John McLeod, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, University of Oslo
"A profound and sensitive exploration of the healing capacity of nature and how counselors from all disciplines can expand their practice into the outdoors. Nature-Based Therapy provides plenty of convincing evidence to support the argument that time in nature can have biological, psychological and social advantages for children, youth and families. If you have ever felt the need to take your clinical work beyond four walls, this book will inspire you to step outside, no matter your client's diagnosis or the weather. Nature-Based Therapy is a tantalizing blend of clinical anecdote, research and social critique of our disconnection with nature and what we can do to reimagine therapy as a process of reconnection."
Michael Ungar, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Child, Family and Community Resilience, Dalhousie University, Canada, and author, Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success
"Written in a unique, accessible, anecdotal and narrative style, Nature-Based Therapy gives a real experiential sense of working with children and families outdoors. This book is a timely and pragmatic contribution to the growing literature on taking therapy outside."
Dr. Joe Hinds, Senior Lecturer in Counselling, Department of Psychology, Social Work and Counselling, University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, London, UK
"This book offers nature-based methods that help the clinician to expand the lens with which to see, hear, and work with clients to include the natural world in which we live. With compelling research, illustrative case studies, and thoughtful narrative on ecopsychological theory, Nature-based Therapy is a valuable handbook for practitioners working with children, youth, and families. It also offers much for educators and parents to ponder about the importance of re-membering ourselves and our children to the natural world."
Patricia H. Hasbach, PhD, Private practice clinician, professor, and co-author of Ecopsychology: Science, Totems, and the Technological Species and The Rediscovery of the Wild
"This book provides essential answers to the question, "But how do I really do nature-based therapy". The scientific research literature is now clear enough that interaction with nature greatly benefits people physically and psychologically. It's time for the therapeutic community and the broader public to integrate this knowledge into practice. This accessible and visionary book shows us how. Highly recommended."
Peter H. Kahn, Jr., author of Technological Nature: Adapatation and the Future of Human Life
"...explores multiple ways of enhancing wellbeing through case studies that beautifully illuminate the complex and integrated process of healing and change that can be found in nature-based therapy."
Dr. Christine Lynn Norton, LCSW, CCTP, CET
"A fascinating overview of the health benefits of nature therapy, its healing power and how in this modern age, each of us needs nature now more than ever. Read this book. And then redeem this very day by giving yourself and those you care about, a generous dose of Vitamin"N" (Nature)."
Jacob Rodenburg, co-author, The Big Book of Nature Activities, and Executive Director Camp Kawartha & The Camp Kawartha Outdoor Education Centre/Environment Centre
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Breathe New Life into Your Home with Large Plants
How Veterans Are Healing Themselves through Farming and Outdoor Activities
What you don't know can hurt you
The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry
The Secret Life of Your Microbiome
Why Nature and Biodiversity are Essential to Health and Happiness