Ecopsychology connects human psychology to ecology, focusing in on the interdependence and interconnections among all forms of life on earth. Ecopsychology situates the human psyche and each “individual” psyche as a node in a vast, interconnected network. I place quotations around the word individual because from an ecological point of view, nothing exists on it own; everything exists in relationship.
It’s not uncommon to understand the challenges we face as solely our own, disconnected from the larger world around us. From an egoic perspective, it is natural to place ourselves and our problems at the centre of our own worlds. In this shift from ego-centric identification to eco-centric identification, ecopsychology extends the way we see and make sense of ourselves.
Within an ecopsychological frame, each human is no longer an independent unit, apart from others. Rather, humans are all already a part of their environments and surrounding communities. From an ecopsychological perspective, our wounds are often symptoms of our disconnections from the natural world and others. The feelings of grief, depression and anxiety we carry may be empathic responses to the destruction of nature on our planet and unhealthy culture. So, ecopsychology holds that our wellbeing depends on consciously affirming and strengthening our connectivity to the natural world and to those around us.
When we pay attention, we find that nature offers qualities of resilience and renewal. In our search for health and wholeness, we have the opportunity to re-member ourselves as co-existent with our physical and social environments. Practices like forest bathing and establishing sit spots (places we regularly visit to sit meditatively in nature) are tools of this trade. Answers to our challenges (personal and collective) can often be found within nature. Ecopsychology also teaches us to listen in and see how nature is reflected within ourselves.
While we don’t do outdoor work at Your Path, working with ecopsychology in clinical practice can involve using metaphors and processes from the natural world to frame our experiences, feeling the elements in our bodies, connecting imaginally to spaces in nature that help us feel relaxed and rejuvenated. Clients can also bring their experiences of nature into the counselling room to be processed and integrated.
Working with nature in mind has the power to change our mindsets and our ways of being with ourselves, each other, and the natural world.