There’s a New Psychology in Town
The mental health benefits of Mother Nature are now being acknowledged.
If you’re considering psychology, or are a psych major, you’ll find this fascinating! And if you’re depressed, angry, and tense, it just might help you.
I read an interesting excerpt from Richard Louv’s book entitled Mother’s Care, in an issue of UNTE Reader based on his book The Nature Principal (2011). In it, Mr. Louv explains that, “Spending time in natural settings is no panacea…but it can be a powerful tool in maintaining or improving mental health.” This new type of psychology is called ecopsychology (ecotherapy), and it’s benefits are remarkable.
Allen Fish, director of the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, works with hundreds of volunteers who count, band and track hawks. He states, “Many of our volunteers hang on for five or more years. Their raptor work becomes deeply therapeutic in their urban lives.” Mr. Fish has heard stories of self-healing of manic depression, abuse and chemical dependency told to him by volunteers.
The University of Essex in England have done their own studies and found “Improvements in self-esteem and mood were significantly greater following the green outdoor walk in comparison to the equivalent indoor walk, especially feelings of anger, depression and tension.”
In the Environmental Science and Technology journal, results published by Jo Barton and Jules Pretty revealed a persons mood and self-esteem improved after a five minute “blue-green exercise”–walking in a natural area next to water. They found while all people improved (of different ages and backgrounds) those who made the most significant improvement were the young and the mentally ill.
If you’re majoring in psychology and find this type of therapy catches your interest, I encourage you to investigate it further. A tree and lake could be the next replacements of the couch.