This is a recent development in my work. It is a way of describing ways of doing therapy that include the environment. Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing), Soulcraft, Nature Reconnection and the impact of climate change on our daily lives are among the orientations that have influenced my work in this area.
Awareness of the climate emergency is becoming more mainstream. It impacts us all and concerns around “How we face the mess we’re in without going crazy” can be issues to look at in therapy as far as I’m concerned. If this is a new idea to you Joanna Macy’s book of the same name is an excellent place to start. I’ve been involved locally in setting up and facilitating one of her Active Hope groups.
Wild Therapy can also involve taking the work outside the consulting room: into the outdoors. I sometimes offer this when it seems relevant to a client's concerns or interests. It can follow a number of different routes. Sitting down and talking for an hour doesn’t necessarily suit everyone. Sometimes it’s useful just to be able to move around. Other times I might suggest meeting at a specific wood, fell or part of the coastline. When we’re there I’ll suggest particular ways of focussing on where we are. What you notice will invariably have a meaning that can open up new insights to familiar patterns.
Here’s an example that happened to me wandering through the woods. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed something drop from a height to the river. It was a small leaf. I watched it hit the surface and become immediately swept into the water’s flow. Turning, dipping, surfing. Then it wrapped round a rock. Stuck. Properly stuck. The water flowing round it, under it. The leaf impacted by the river and impacting the flow at the same time. I stood watching fascinated as, after a while, the leaf began to shift. Just tiny shivers, shuffling a little. The river flow changing again and suddenly the leaf unsticks. Floating more swiftly into a deeper part of the river. Then stuck again against a dam of gathering sticks and debris.
I stood there watching for 10 minutes or more as the leaf was carried along, got stuck, seemingly finally stranded but eventually getting away again. My life being enacted. Stuckness that seems to be unstickable. Interminably slowly but eventually always - momentum, flow returns.
If you have a curiosity for working in any of these ways or just for being outside don’t hesitate to get in touch for an intital meeting at which we can talk about just how it might work for you.
Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone - Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're In without Going Crazy Bill Plotkin - Soulcraft Nick Totton - Wild Therapy Qing Li - Forest Bathing
Steve Lewis - Psychotherapist and Couples Counsellor Lancaster