'Nature and I', An Ecotherapy Journey: A Heuristic Inquiry Into Nature's Role in Healing, From a Psychotherapy Perspective
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The human –nature connection is intrinsic to human beings, and the beneficial effect of Nature on health and wellbeing is well known. However despite this link, it seems that psychotherapy does not fully acknowledge Nature’s role in healing. This dissertation, in the form of a heuristic inquiry, provides an in-depth exploration of some aspects of the relationship between human beings and Nature. As a means of investigating this, the author, a beginning psychotherapist, embarks on an ecotherapy journey in native New Zealand bush, where she navigates her grieving process. Her journey traverses Ireland and Aotearoa, moving between contemporary experiences through historical and social/cultural themes. In the heart of the North Island, New Zealand, she has a profoundly transforming experience of coming home to herself, her profession, and her new home as an immigrant, in the company of tangata whenua –the indigenous people of this land. Nature accompanies her throughout this process. One notable theme discovered was the opportunities that Nature afforded in “moments of meeting”, providing nourishment, and creating healing in the form of transformation of Self and others. Her experiences in Nature inspired her poignant writings, which abound this dissertation. The author encourages therapists to deepen their connection with Nature for their own personal development and self care. She believes that clinical practice will benefit in a myriad of ways from this pursuit. She proposes ecotherapy as a community mental health initiative, with psychotherapists playing a central role in this.