what is eco-psychology?
Ecopsychology encompasses many lines of academic thought and somatic experience. The Oxford dictionary definition, “the psychology of humans or animals in relation to their social, physical, or natural environments; especially psychology in interaction with considerations of integrating human and ecological concerns” is a very literal and clear explanation, but the etymology of the phrase gives deeper insights. Eco means habitat or environment, from the Latin oeco: household, and Greek oik/oikos: house. With psyche meaning of the mind or soul, and -ology, the study of, the definition of ecopsychology as “the study of the dwelling place of the soul” has a humanistic warmth and depth as well as a spiritual dimension.
Ecopsychology can be seen as both a concept and a movement. This movement, although an advance of sorts, is basically one which refers back - in an inward spiral perhaps - to a long forgotten, more “natural” way of being; a way of re-remembering how to live eco-centrically, in a place where human beings are not superior creatures, but just one of the many living organisms on earth.
The very core of ecopsychology for me comprises the refrain: “We are not separate from nature; we are nature.”
The roots of ecopsychology run deep. To the ancient Greek philosophers the study of nature (etymology: from nate or birth) was as perpetual and crucial as it is for us now. Goethe and Heidegger and Wordsworth and Emerson were just some of the writers for whom nature was a central tenet of existence. Freud and Jung believed in the importance of nature for the human psyche – with Jung writing about modern society's loss of processes in nature that were primal, instinctual and cyclical.
Humankind’s divorce from nature has become ever more pervasive in modern times and today people spend an average of 10 hours a day in front of a screen… and less than 30 minutes outside. Numerous studies have shown how TV, video games and smart phones "psychologically numb" people and disconnect them from nature. However, this rupture somewhat surprisingly began 10,000 years ago in the Neolithic period, when the hunter gatherer lifestyle of early people changed to one of agriculture and settlement. When humankind began to use the land, to domesticate plants and animals, they began to see nature as something which could be controlled and used - and eventually monetised.
It is important to point out here that humans are not actually separated from nature, which would be impossible; but “our everyday lives have drifted vast distances from our species’ original intimacy with the natural world” (Bill Plotkin). It was not too long ago that humans lived and worked in synchronicity with the seasons, but Western society has little time to even notice simple nature connections in today’s fast paced, online 24/7 technological existence. Ecotherapy is the application of eco-psychology to improving wellbeing, and can mean many things, including taking psychotherapy outdoors, walking and talking in nature, bringing ecological issues into the therapy room, forest 'bathing', wilderness therapy, animal assisted therapies, various types of bodywork, mindfulness, rites of passage and shamanic work, and more.
My passion is to guide people towards becoming conscious of their unique and mystical relationship to the wild world in which they live.
Reconnect, Recover, Restore, Revitalise: Rewild your soul.