A Handy Guide to Ecotherapy

Ecotherapy is an emerging therapeutic treatment method aimed toward treating both physical health and psychological issues by detoxifying the body. The essential idea behind ecotherapy is that the human being is connected to the natural environment and is impacted by the changes happening in the external environment on account of environmental toxins. Detoxification of the body through outdoor activities is the fundamental basis of environmental therapy.

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Why Do We Need Ecotherapy?

In the past few decades, environmental degradation has not only destroyed natural ecosystems but has also led to significant increase in diseases related to environmental toxins, allergens and microorganisms. The outcome of this environmental crisis has been widespread prevalence of different types of cancers, chronic allergies, asthma, anxiety, depression and other ailments.

Ecotherapy, also known as environmental therapy, endeavours to unravel environment-related health issues by strengthening the linkage between the Nature and human being. The self-balancing mechanism of Nature can help in improving both physical and mental health by creating harmony between the natural elements and mankind.

Studies have shown that Nature can provide the healing touch and enhance physical health, psychological state and life satisfaction. For instance, the presence of houseplants in the workplace can positively affect creativity and productivity among employees.

The Different Types of Ecotherapy

Ecotherapy consists of an array of nature-based healing approaches which can be carried out individually or in groups under the guidance of trained therapists. Therapist notes, usually taken during a session, can provide a good understanding about the nature of ecotherapy services required for a particular health problem. To obtain the best results, ecotherapy is usually conducted in natural settings to get the simplest results. The popular types of ecotherapy techniques include nature meditation, horticultural therapy, animal-assisted therapy and conservation-related activities.

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Nature replenishes our souls and has the power to boost our spirits. Meditating in nature activates our senses which assists in mindfulness training and propels the meditator to contemplate how a specific aspect of nature relates him to and what he can learn from it. Nature-based mediation is usually done in groups in a natural setting, like a park or forest. For instance, an old person can regain self-respect after realizing how old trees provide shelter for birds and shade for younger plants and passers-by.

The therapeutic benefits of gardening have been known for centuries. Horticulture-based therapy involves involvement in gardening and plant-based activities to realize specific therapeutic goals. Soil digging, planting trees, maintaining garden beds, trimming leaves and mowing grass are some of the common horticultural activities. Social isolation, depression, post-traumatic stress and drug abuse are the main mental disorders where horticultural therapy can act as a therapeutic modality. The major benefits of horticultural therapy include improvement in memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation and socialization.

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Animal-assisted therapy is the use of animals in the mental healing process. Grounded in the human-animal bond, the main goal of this therapy is to assist people deal with physical and mental ailments through pets. Traditionally, dogs have been used as therapy animals but cats are being used more and more, usually dogs and cats. For example, a therapy cat can be a loyal companion for a senior who is feeling lonely in an old age home. Similarly, pet therapy may help a kid who has recently his mother to overcome emotional trauma.

Physical activities, like walking, jogging, cycling or doing yoga, can rejuvenate the human-nature bond and can reduce stress, anxiety and anger. Likewise, conservation-based activities can inculcate a sense of belonging and connectedness with the natural elements .

Bottom Line

Ecotherapy is an effective therapeutic technique to treat physical and mental illnesses. It is also an effective way to strengthen the human-nature and human-animal bonds, thus helping in the conservation of natural ecosystems and wildlife.