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Exploring ecopsychology: the dimensions of ecopsychology

Updated: Jan 11

Your guide into this trans-disciplinary field!


The roots and influences of ecopsychology can be traced back to environmental action, humanistic psychology and nature-based healing.


The mind is nature, and nature, the mind.

Check out the four dimensions of ecopsychology below.

Exploring ecopsychology

Much like roots of a tree, ecopsychological practices overlap and intertwine into other fields. Ecopsychology as a whole goes beyond individual healing to encompass a broad cultural scope. It recognizes that the environmental situations we currently find ourselves in, including the consequences of, and solutions to, are deeply rooted in human behavior and beliefs. Ecopsychology looks to redefine and re-imagine society’s current relationship with nature as well as contribute to self healing and both physical and mental health.


The four main dimensions of ecopsychology




Infographic depicting the 4 main dimensions of ecopsycholog (Applied; Spirituality; Ecoeducation & Activism; Animal connections)
4 Main Dimensions of Ecopsychology



 

Applied Ecopsychology

Applied ecopsychology means the study and use of ecopsychological principles and research to answer questions of the mind, spirit, behavior and experience.


Ecotherapy which is probably the most well known form of applied ecopsychology, describes the positive affects that contact with nature can have on mental health and focuses on the total mind-body-spirit relationship. Connection with nature has been considered beneficial for psychological well-being since times of evolution. Direct contact with the natural world fosters mental health by reducing stress, healing emotional trauma, helping with addiction recovery, strengthening self-confidence and even cultivating spiritual growth.


Using the principles of positive and client-centered psychology, ecotherapy-related techniques have been shown to be effective in medical disorders like hypertension, obesity, post-surgical recovery and psychosocial conditions like depression, stress reduction, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperkinetic disorder (ADHD) and adjustment disorders (Chaudhury, Banerjee 2020) .


Ecotherapy can incorporate typical forms of psychotherapy in addition to its own methods. There is significant evidence for the benefits of contact with nature. Ecotherapy includes nature therapy, horticultural therapy, “green” exercise, wilderness therapy, natural lifestyle therapy, eco-dreamwork, community ecotherapy, dealing with eco-anxiety and eco-grief and much more.



kayak gliding through the water looking at a misty wilderness lake
SEELEDU Explorers wilderness adventures on the water

Spirituality & Spiritual Development

Ecopsychology promotes that the human mind and environment are inextricably bound because they represent both life and consciousness and are inseparable from the surrounding environment.


Ecopsychology as a spiritual practice helps to respond to deep and enduring questions of the human condition such as:


Who are we?

How do we grow?

Why do we suffer?

How do we heal?


Ecopsychology can also enhance and enliven our spiritual practices by connecting to practices that have long traditions and deep roots. Ex: Celebration of Solstice, equinoxes, paganism, developing an eco

Foreground roaring bonfire with woods and mountain view background
SEELEDU summer solstice celebration with traditional bonfire

identity. Additionally, the repetitions and patterns found in nature are echoed in many spiritual practices, and can be experientially included in nature interventions and psychological work. Ecopsychology creates an embodied awareness of what it means to be fully alive and cultivate connections with our greater world and energies.

Many believe that science and spirituality are incompatible. A topic of taboo within many circles, we like to counter that spiritual practices have been used to create a deeper, healthier self across humanity, throughout humanity. At SEELEDU we recognize the significant bond between human health and nature. If nature therapy is about helping us feel more connected, then it is at its core, a spiritual practice, whether or not we label it as such.

For us, spirituality means the everyday loving connection with everything, with nature, with what you really are & consciously expressing this individual being in the world.



Ecoeducation & Activism

Ecopsychologists are stewards of the planet. Ecoeducation is used to promote and to understand the fragility of our environment and the importance of its protection. Through environmental education initiatives, ecopsychologists look to assist others in developing knowledge on specific topics (ex: plant care, beekeeping, healthy ecosystems etc.) as well as redefine and re-imagine society’s current relationship with nature.

Can be seen as: awareness, education, activism,


At SEELEDU we are passionate about improving local ecosystem! Start here to learn more about pollinator gardens or beekeeping!



Animal connections

Animal work is about developing a connection and relationship with animals.


There are two main categories to animal assisted work:


  • Animal-assisted interventions: being present in spaces, such as farms or other locations, where you come into contact with animals and spend relaxed time feeding, petting, and/or working with them. This can look like emotional support animals and service animals and also as caring for animals.

  • Animal-assisted therapy: can be classified by the type of animal, the targeted population, and how the animal is incorporated into the therapeutic plan (Ohaire, 2015). The most commonly used types of animal-assisted therapy are canine-assisted and equine-assisted therapy. The goal of animal-assisted therapy is to improve a clients social, emotional, or cognitive functioning.


SEELEDU therapy dog Utahraptor loves spending time with you

Did you know visits from dogs help reduce blood pressure, lower anxiety and stress levels, reduce perceptions of pain and stimulate the release of endorphins(Schuck, 2020), which makes people feel good? This is especially important for those who are feeling lonely, isolated or depressed. Canine companions also trigger similar neural pathways to the parent-baby bond.



Ecopsychology offers important insights into cognition, psychological well-being and the general human experience. Through recognizing our deep bond and reciprocal relationship between humans and nature, we are better able to address individual and collective healing. Nature is both a home and family as well as nature is a representation of the collective self. Our current collective consumerist and industrialized practices promote the separation of humans with nature which leads to mutual suffering, such as through environmental devastation, grief and alienation. Ecopychology is part of an ongoing and practical healing mission that recognizes and honors that the health of the individual human psyche depends upon the collective health of all the kingdoms of life on Earth. At SEELEDU through our ecopsychological practices such as SEELEDU Explorers, SEELEDU Yoga, and personal counseling we reconnect you with nature to improve your individual healing, psycho-emotional bonding, environmental action and sustainable lifestyle. What can SEELEDU do for you?


SEELEDU explores the journey of being human and nurtures nature connections for health and well-being. SEELEDU is based in science and grounded in nature. Practicing in ecopsychology and recognizing the mutual compassion and nurturing ability between nature and humans, SEELEDU offers live and online programming, development and learning for holistic, whole-body well-being.


References

Chaudhury, P., Banerjee, D. (2020). Recovering With Nature”: A Review of Ecotherapy and Implications for the COVID-19


O'Haire M.E., Guérin N.A., Kirkham A.C., Daigle C.L. (2015). Animal-Assisted Intervention for Trauma, Including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. HABRI Central Briefs.

Roszak T. The Voice of the Earth. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster (1992).

Schuck, S.E.B., Johnson, H.L., Abdullah, M. M., Stehli, A., Fine, A. H. & Lakes, K. D. (2018). The Role of Canine Assisted Intervention on Improving Self-Esteem in Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 08, November 2018

Stoeckel, L. E., Palley, L. S., Gollub, R. L., Niemi, S. M., & Evins, A. E. (2014). Patterns of brain activation when mothers view their own child and dog: an fMRI study. PloS one, 9(10), e107205. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0107205

Schwachhofer R. Credo 1965: Gedichte. [Kreis der Freunde]. Relief-Verlag-Eilers (1965).


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