Nature / Ecotherapy Group
for Mental Wellness
About This Group
Nature therapy, also known as Ecotherapy, allows us to connect with the natural world in therapeutic ways that improve our mental well-being. Join us for this outdoor group where we experience and explore the benefits of engaging with nature to facilitate improvements in mental health. In this group we participate in several different nature-based activities, including:
Walking in the park
Practicing nature-based stress reduction
Potting and caring for a plant
Forest bathing (does not involve a bath tub!)
Various expressive exercises
*Please note that this group will meet outdoors even in the rain*- pack your rain coat and warm layers. We may occasionally used sheltered areas when available. Participants should feel comfortable in a group setting, walking up to one mile at a time, standing for prolonged periods of time, being in a public park setting, and wearing a mask due to COVID.
As a group we aim to have each participant accomplish three objectives:
1. Reduce anxiety and depression
2. Strengthen our relationship with nature by exploring our environmental identities
3. Learn 2 techniques to improve mental well-being within the context of nature
A group session typically follows a structured format and consists of:
A warm welcome and nature-based stress reduction exercise
Check ins on mental well-being
Nature-based activity (will vary by week- see above for different activities)
Time for personal reflections and sharing
All participation is voluntary, and participants are always welcome to say "pass" or opt out of any planned group activities.
There are many benefits of nature therapy including stress reduction, improved mental and emotional functioning, developing efficacy and growing a sense of meaning (Gifford, 2016. Research Methods for Environmental Psychology).
Participants should be comfortable in a group setting and wearing a mask (due to COVID) for the duration of the session. Social distancing will be practiced, and the group will take place 100% outdoors. If a participant has been in contact with someone who has tested positive, or has any symptoms that may present a COVID symptom concern, they should not attend group.
Can I join?
Individuals who typically thrive in this group are:
Comfortable in nature and participating in therapy in a public park
Comfortable in the group setting
Have a desire to improve their mental well-being
Willing to wear a mask and practice social-distancing (due to COVID)
Able to communicate needs, preferences, or request accommodations to the Facilitator
In good physical health and do not have any concerns that would interfere with being able to walk up to 1 mile at a time
A screening intake session (one on one) is required before the first group session to ensure proper fit, alignment with goals, and to provide more detailed information about the group. The intake session is charged the same rate as the group session. If it is determined that this particular group is not a good fit, a referral to an appropriate group will be made. Submit an email, call, or contact form to request a spot in the next group opportunity.
This group takes place in SE Portland, Oregon. The exact meeting location is shared after a participant has completed an intake session. We do this to protect confidentiality and location of participants.
Group time may vary depending upon the time of year the group is offered, when the sun sets, etc. Group sessions are 1.5 hours long.
This group is offered to adults ages 18+. Participants should feel comfortable wearing a mask and being socially distanced (due to COVID), be relatively comfortable in the group setting, and have good overall health, with an ability to walk at least 1 mile.
Nature / Ecotherapy FAQs
What do I need to bring to Nature/ Ecotherapy sessions?
Depending on the time of year, different items may be helpful. In general, it is helpful to have:
shoes or boots that are comfortable to walk in
clothing that is appropriate for the weather
a water bottle
a small pack to carry group materials in (there may be handouts in session)
in warm months there may be mosquitoes present, so layers or bug spray may be helpful
How do we approach privacy and confidentiality?
During the screening process we discuss privacy and confidentiality issues. Meeting locations and locations for group activities are chosen with intention to avoid being overheard by others. Each individual is informed of the risks and benefits and consent to treatment taking place outdoors after receiving a full briefing and discussing questions or concerns.
What are the benefits and risks?
The benefits of Nature / Ecotherapy involve decreasing anxiety and stress and improving overall mental well-being. This type of therapy allows participants to deepen their connection to the natural world, practice mindfulness skills, gain perspective, connection, improve self-esteem, and engage the body in beneficial physical movement. The risks of this modality of therapy include, but are not limited to physical injury, exposure to natural elements, including weather, and being in a public space. Risk management is addressed within the screening process and each participant makes an informed decision regarding consent before joining the group.
What about bad weather?
If there are hazardous conditions such as high wind, hazardous air quality, flooding, snow/ice, a session may change to telehealth format or be rescheduled. Participants will be notified or any changes.