We are lucky here in the Texas Hill Country to be surrounded by breathtaking views of rugged hills, clear creeks, and scenic canyons. While our hills, lakes, and rivers provide us a sense of tranquility and awe-inspiring beauty, many people also naturally turn to the outdoors for comfort and solace during painful, difficult times. Walking along a path, sitting by a creek, or simply enjoying a breeze can calm a person’s distress and ease their grief and sadness.
Clients who have tried counseling sessions outdoors have shared the following:
- Felt more relaxed, less anxious or worried
- It was easier to talk about difficult subjects
- Felt happier, less sad or depressed
- Worked through concerns or problems more easily
- Felt calmer and more peaceful
- Made more progress in that session
- Felt more capable of dealing with life’s difficulties
These client experiences are backed up by research. In addition to numerous physical and cognitive benefits, being in nature has many psychological benefits, including stress reduction, relaxation, improved mood, greater sense of peace, and increased self-confidence.
Why ecotherapy/nature therapy?
When it comes to treating trauma, non-verbal activities and therapies, such as ecotherapy, offer important access to the parts of the brain where trauma memory is stored and allow for safe and regulating ways to reach those parts of the brain essential for repair and healing. In addition to outdoor therapy, we can incorporate many other non-verbal therapies into your counseling process, such as animal-assisted therapy or other natural interests and strengths you may have.
Where do you do ecotherapy?
We can sit on the porch outside of my office or find a spot out in the large yard underneath the pecan trees. Or, we could meet away from my office at a park. Some people like to walk or hike as they talk, and others prefer to find a spot to sit.
Some popular options for ecotherapy away from my office include:
- Inks Lake State Park
- Doeskin Ranch of the Balcones National Wildlife Refuge (off FM 1431, about 20 min. from Marble Falls and Burnet and about 25 min. from Lago Vista)
Occasionally, I will offer ecotherapy sessions at sunrise or sunset or during a full moon. These very special times can be meaningful and moving ways to add new perspective to your therapy sessions.
But I’m not really an “outdoor person”.
That’s okay. Some people prefer to be inside my office for all of their sessions. Others may enjoy mostly being inside, but occasionally sitting on the shaded porch just outside my office.