This article by guest contributor Jane Cooke introduces Ecotherapy.

Ecotherapy is a recognition that it makes no sense to try and heal ourselves without incorporating the ‘natural’ world, the other-than-human in that healing process.

Reconnection is the work of Joanna Macy – beautiful and powerful work that in connecting us with the despair we feel at the eco-crisis - returns to us the power that we have to act.

It reaffirms the healing and strength that comes from being with others who also want to “be the change”

Sow autumn seeds within yourself to kindle and grow during the winter, give yourself the opportunity to feel connection with others who also experience both joy and grief for the world, and connection with the other-than-human.

Ecotherapy groups are a balanced and supported way of people getting together to give themselves the chance to become more aware of their feelings about the eco-crisis, and to look to the future, to feel more personal power in making choices for the future, and to express hope and joy for the work that is happening all around the world.

Acknowledging difficult feelings is not about being overcome with despair and hopelessness, the expressing of those feelings is transformative so that instead of being deadening and depressing they become the engine - the fire in your belly - that supports courage, hope, empowerment and action. In the course of this personal issues may well arise and can be supported by the group and the nature-connecting work.

Each session features some exercises that build on what has gone before, often but not always using the work of Joanna Macy- and also give time to express verbally and non-verbally feelings that arise from the work.

There will always be some time out of doors. A group can also think about a longer day somewhere more remote for a more intense outdoor experience. This work is not about endurance or fitness or being out of doors all the time – it is part of the modern world and recognises our modern lives.  

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Jane Cooke is a Gestalt therapist and Ecotherapist. She has training in and many years experience of group-work.  Jane has wide experience of working with people facing challenges in life, including people with learning disabilities and people with mental health problems and has been a prison counsellor.

Jane is a member of CAPO, Counsellors and Therapists Working Outdoors, and is a member of UKAHPP and is guided by their code of practice.

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Image link to Llandrindod Acorns project page