Another aspect of my practice is rewilding therapy or wilderness therapy. This form of therapy is about going outdoors from the counselling room to encounter the other than human, going for a walk, moving about or finding a spot to sit in. Being outside can develop an awareness of all the plant and animal life that we do not connect with in our busy lives. Stressful fast paced living with all its demands can cause parts of the brain to shut down cognition to stay safe, but we then lose the fascination of our natural environment. To engage with sky, mountains, trees or animals requires involuntary attention which is the polarisation of demanding life stress attention. This non- demanding attention to wildlife can lesson stress, and establish personal reflection helping to re-connect with your own inner wisdom. For many people directive functional therapy can be very stressful especially if they have experienced trauma or abuse. The intimacy of one to one counselling indoors can be overwhelming, whereas moving outside can offer a more relaxing connection with the therapist allowing a person to share deep feelings.
Using wilderness as a co therapist can provide a container for emotional growth, for example working with the seasons can help explore birth, life, renewal, death and constant change. Nature always provides useful metaphors to project a person’s difficult inner feelings. Using natural processes or objects can help someone to externalise problems and conflicts in a dynamic, creative manner. This is very therapeutic as this unique symbolic reality can express more than language can.
Forest bathing or
Forest bathing or Shinrin-Yoku was first created and researched in Japan, to help the high suicide rate and stress of its workforce. Research states that spending time in woods or forests reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels. NK cells that are part of the immune System were raised after forest bathing, and stayed significantly high a month afterwards.The health benefits are due to Phytoncide that trees and plants secret to protect themselves from disease and insects.
Forest bathing allows people so slow down emotionally and physically, offering Attention restoration Therapy, noticing the colours, smells, even the the tiny creatures or the veins in the leaves, creates mindful presence. All your worries fall away as you enter the woods and even though this experience is within a group setting you will leave with a personal experience.
Forest Bathing is experienced through some mindful exercises, moments of silence and group reflection. There is also the great enjoyment of sitting around a campfire and eating home made soup.
Forest bathing is a seasonal activity done within a group setting, and will commence in the Spring.