Menu Expand
With Nature in Mind

With Nature in Mind

Andy McGeeney | Lindsay Royan


Additional Information

Book Details


What is ecotherapy, how does it relate to mental health, and how can it reduce emotional distress and promote general wellbeing?

This book explains how a deeper connection to nature can improve quality of life, by combining the therapeutic power of mindfulness and being out in the natural world. Examining the latest psychological research evidence into how and why the natural world has such a positive effect on us, this book shows how best to utilise these therapeutic connections in practice. 100 nature-based activities are included, from experiencing the full force of the wind, to creating a sound map of natural noises. The aims of each activity are clearly outlined, with detailed guidelines for facilitating outdoor sessions with adults effectively and safely, and advice to help make the most of the outdoors in all weathers and seasons.

Research suggests that modern urban environments can have negative effects on mental health whilst contact with green spaces can have positive effects. This timely book, drawing on wealth of research evidence, is an excellent guide to the theory and practice of ecotherapy. It deserves to be read by researchers, practitioners, trainers and students.
Dr David Harper, Reader in Clinical Psychology, Programme Director (Academic), Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, University of East London
Beautifully written, full of enthusiasm and passion, packed with information, with an overview on how to run ecotherapy sessions and including detailed descriptions of lots of activities. If you are not already interested in the subject you soon will be.
Jochen Encke has worked for many years with torture survivors on allotments
Andy McGeeney is a freelance ecotherapist and has worked with ecotherapy for over 25 years, including running projects and training workshops. He was appointed as Psychologist Specialising in Ecotherapy to the North East London Foundation Trust from 2009-2011. Andy is a visiting lecturer in ecotherapy to the University of East London and Birkbeck College London. He lives in Essex, UK.
This book really lives up to its name; a well thought out, practical guide with clear instructions and an easy to navigate format. I was drawn in by the welcoming style of the book, underpinned by relevant theory and that all important evidence base, which conveys the author's infectious enthusiasm and passion for the subject matter.
Nicky Tann, Occupational Therapist, Barking & Dagenham Memory Service, NELFT
With Nature in Mind: The Ecotherapy Manual for Mental Health Professionals highlights the huge benefits to mental wellbeing from engaging with green environments and taking part in ecotherapy activities. Havering Mind have seen over many years the positive effects of nature on mental health distress via our green walks, horticulture project and restorative garden. Spending time in the natural world is good for all of us.
Vanessa Bennett, CEO, Havering Mind

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
With Nature in Mind - The Ecotherapy Manual for Mental Health Professionals by Andy McGeeney 3
Foreword 9
Acknowledgements 12
Disclaimer 15
Preface 16
Part 1 - Ecotherapy: \nWhat it is and how to do it 21
1. Introduction 23
Putting ‘eco’ into recovery 24
The particular relevance of ecotherapy to current issues in mental health 26
2. Deeper into the Forest 29
Defining and distinguishing ecotherapy 29
Deep ecology 37
Joanna Macy 39
Political activist deep ecology 40
Critique of the DEM in North America by Taylor 42
Multiple effects of ecotherapy 45
Is ecotherapy an escape or a return? 46
Related activities 47
Theoretical perspectives 48
Shallow and deep ecotherapy 48
Spirituality and psychological states 50
3. Doing Ecotherapy in Our Work 53
Am I competent to be an ecotherapist? 53
The triadic relationship in nature 54
Wildlife knowledge 54
Ecotherapy by non-therapists 57
Setting up ecotherapy in your work 59
The practicalities of taking the group out 64
Consider what type of ecotherapy leader you are 67
Running a session 67
The Mindfulness in Nature model 69
Bringing ecotherapy into our work elsewhere 73
Designing nature into therapeutic environments 76
Part 2 - Evidence:\n A review of the effectiveness of nature on our health and well-being 85
4. The Evidence from Evolution and Ecological Systems 87
Nature 88
Evolution 88
Ecological systems 89
More psychological processes in nature 91
Theoretical explanations for ecotherapy 92
Effects on higher-order cognitive functioning 101
Principles of green exercise 102
Conclusions 104
5. The Evidence from Body and Mind Studies 105
The effects of nature on physical health 105
The evidence: nature and mindfulness 109
6. The Evidence for Specific Environmental Factors 119
The evidence for the effects of natural light 119
The evidence for the effects of negative ions in nature 123
The evidence for the effects of natural sounds 124
7. The Evidence Relating to Social Differences 131
The evidence for the effects of nature on children 131
The evidence for the effects of nature on people with dementia 133
The evidence for the effects of nature on communities 138
The evidence that nature is good for mental health 141
Some resources for engaging children with nature 148
Some resources for ecotherapy and dementia 148
Part 3 - Activities 151
Introduction 153
Where do all the activities come from? 153
Adapting and updating activities 153
Activity format 154
Activity codes 154
The activities listed alphabetically 155
All is experience 163
An apple becomes part of you 164
Attending to the breath 165
Awareness and contemplation 165
Blue sky blue mind 165
Eating with eyes closed 166
Just sitting 167
Monologue in a pair 168
Sounds as music 168
Still tree, wandering mind 169
Stretching the mind far and near 169
Today’s colour is… 170
Ball name game 170
Barefoot walk 171
Being with trees 172
The age of a tree 173
The leaf in your hand 177
Tree biological processes 178
Tree leaf designs 179
Tree leaf rubbing 181
Tree life history 181
Trees, their economic importance to us 182
Birdsong 183
Blind walk 184
Bring nature into your home 185
Buried in autumn leaves 188
Camera 188
Cat’s ears 189
Changes in nature 190
Change is constant 190
Phenology mandala 191
Solar arc 192
Something to celebrate each month 193
Colour chart match 194
Colour mosaic with leaves 196
Creating a memory of place 197
Creative activities 200
Decorated path 200
Frame a view 200
Leaf blanket 201
Natural cairn 201
Seasonal circle 202
Woodland mobile 203
Dawn chorus walk 203
Death and life in winter 207
Do you know where you live? 209
Earth walking 210
The ecological body 212
Ecological networks 214
Ecosystem milling 215
Indra’s net 218
Network of life 219
Web of life game 220
Ecotherapy beyond the session 221
Using a local map 221
What can I do on my own in nature? 222
Experience of nature 223
Find your tree again 223
Folding poem 224
The four elements 225
Four elements: earth, air, water and fire 225
Reflecting on the four elements 227
Walking through the four elements 228
Fox walking 229
Getting to know another life form 230
Gratitude 232
Hawk and deer 233
Home in nature 234
How to meditate 235
I appreciate… 237
I notice 238
Inside/outside me 239
Interview with nature 240
The Kawa model 242
Leaning on a tree, a person 244
Life circle 246
Listening to silence 246
Memory stick 247
A mini-beast’s life 248
Mirror exercise 249
My connection to nature 249
My special place in nature 250
Nature makes an appearance 251
Nicky’s memory cone 252
Off the beaten track 253
Physical and relaxation warm-ups 254
Physical relaxation exercises 255
A place, a word, a poem 257
Poetry for reflection 258
A question for nature 259
Scavenger search 259
Seaside activities 262
Beach mandala 262
Beach scavenger search 263
Birds’ feathers 263
Changing tides 263
Geology of place 264
Message in a bottle 264
Sea rhythms 265
Stone tower 265
See with the mind then the heart 266
Silent walking 267
Smell like a fox 268
Social warm-ups 268
Sound map 271
Stone in my heart 271
A story from today in nature 272
Survival for a day 275
Texture swatch match 276
Thisness 276
Visualisations 277
Honouring our ancestors 279
Inheritance of the wild 282
Our evolutionary story 284
The web of life 287
Watching water 290
Moving water watching 290
Standing by the river/going with the flow 291
Step out of the river of thought 293
Still water watching 293
What does the river teach us of life? 294
Weather you like it or not 295
What to do in winter 296
Wild food for ecotherapy 298
Wildlife watching 301
Wind in the willows 302
Witnessing 304
Useful resources 307
Further reading 311
References 313
Index 324
Blank Page