What is Ecopsychology?

| Staff Writers

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Ecopsychology is a very new social and intellectual movement that strives to understand and harmonize people’s relationship with the Earth. Ecopsychologists examine the psychological processes that bond us with and alienate us from nature. In a nutshell, eco-based psychology integrates psychological insights with the grassroots environmental movement.

A Brief History

Theodore Roszak, a Californian professor, was part of the counterculture movement during the 1960’s. He is credited with creating the concept in a book he published in the 1990’s. Roszak creation came about through combining the emotional sensitivity of therapists with the scientific expertise of ecologists. This new field goes beyond individual healing to encompass a broad cultural scope of redefining and re-imagining society’s current relationship with mother nature.

Roszak proposed that ecotherapists should promote individual healing while also engaging the community as a whole. The human mind and environment are inextricably bound because they represent both life and consciousness. The underlying foundation is based on the concept that the individual human psyche is inseparable from the surrounding environment. There are other notable academics, such as Paul Shepard, who explored the effects of poor engagement with nature on human development, and David Abram, who focused on the relationships between ecological issues and ecopsychological experiences.

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Goals and Insights

Ecopsychologists integrate ecology practices and psychology concepts to shift environmental action away from negative emotions like blame and anxiety. Instead of coercing others to protect the environment, there should be respectful invitations and understanding. Ecopsychologists foster ecological thinking and contact with the nature for psychotherapeutic purposes, individual healing and personal growth. They help their clients create lifestyles that are ecologically sustainable and psychologically healthy.

Ecopsychologist offers important insights into cognition, psychological well-being and the general human experience. First, there is a deep bond and reciprocal relationship between humans and nature. This is best illustrated through the concepts of nature being both a home and family as well as nature is a representation of the collective self. Second, the separation of humans with nature leads to mutual suffering, such as through environmental devastation and grief and alienation. Third, reconnecting with nature promotes individual healing, psycho-emotional bonding, environmental action and sustainable lifestyles

Proven Benefits

Ecopsychology’s roots and influences can be traced to environmental action, humanistic psychology and nature-based healing. The American Psychology Association (APA) notes that ecotherapy, which combines evidence-based counseling approaches in wilderness settings, is both beneficial and generally successful. Ecopsychologists employ sophisticated strategies to promote positive motivations that experiences in the natural world. Certain juvenile corrections and residential treatment programs go so far as to use remote wilderness settings for intense experiences through the healing power of nature.

This is because direct contact with the natural world fosters mental health through reducing stress, healing emotional trauma, helping with addiction recovery, strengthening self-confidence and even cultivating spiritual growth. Participants naturally gravitate towards supporting sustainable choices and lifestyles because they recognize that human and environmental health are intricately interconnected. Participants are also challenged to critically think about the implications of consumerism, materialism and environmental domination and exploitation.

Ecopsychology is a new field that aims to simultaneously heal the mind and surrounding environment.

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