What is EcoSoul: Ecotherapy for Health?
EcoSoul is a leader in the movement to facilitate healing, transformation and growth nurtured by healthy interaction and relationships with the natural world. Our mission is to empower and support individuals, organizations and communities, to re-connect with the healing power of the natural world for health and wellness through teaching, EcoSoul mentoring, transformative education, community engagement and ceremonies. We especially focus on women, youth, especially transition age youth, people of color, persons living with chronic illness and LGBT communities as well those most impacted by environmental toxins. EcoSoul utilizes Ecotherapy practices, such as health-education, holistic counseling, nature-based mindfulness based practices, coaching based on evidence-based models and ritual and ceremony in nature to cultivate peace and well-being. With nature as its guide, EcoSoul supports social diversity to bring together ecopsychology, social justice, restoration, and healing
Why was EcoSoul: Ecotherapy for Health created?
Founder J. Phoenix Smith, MSW is passionate about making earth honoring practices that encourage and support wellness, transformation, and peace accessible and meaningful for diverse communities including people of color, LGBT families and communities and youth. As a Certified Ecotherapist she is a public and community health wellness leader with over 20 years of public health, non-profit and government experience working with communities impacted by racial/ethnic health disparities. As an African American Queer woman who lacked positive experiences with nature growing up, Phoenix understands the value of creating programming to bridge the gap between natural spaces and diverse communities as a pathway to healing.
How does EcoSoul support people to interact with the natural world for wellness?
EcoSoul consults with recreational agencies, tech businesses, park districts, social services, non-profits and public health agencies to introduce and encourage the use of Ecotherapy practices through culturally aware programming. Phoenix has a breadth and depth of training and experience including initiation and ordination in an Afro-Cuban Oricha spiritual tradition, a Master’s Degree in Social Work, graduate Certificate in the first Ecotherapy program in the country, training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and is beginning training in 2015 to be a Rites of Passage Nature Guide to conduct quests and ceremonies out on the land within a culturally appropriate context.
- 2010 Participated in the 10th Annual Soul Stroll for Health sponsored by the San Mateo African American Health Coalition
- 2011 Led Ecotherapy workshop at the Alameda Behavioral Health Services and Black Women’s Media Project BE STILL RETREAT
- 2010- 2011 Led Bay Area Nature Strolls for People of Color
- Presenter at Earth Medicine Alliance Conference in 2010 and 2011 – San Francisco
- Facilitated Cultural Eco-Spiritual Ceremony @ Heron’s Head 2010 and West Oakland 2011
- 2011 -Awarded Moonifest Micro Grant for Ecotherapy Workshops
- Developed and Conducted first Intro to Ecotherapy Training @ Edgewood Center for Children and Families 2011-2015
- Published article in Journal of Ecopsychology—September 2012
- Presented at California Institute of Integral Studies for Therapist Trainees
- Presented at Bioneers Conference 2014, SF Green Festival 2013
- Presented Ecotherapy, Nature and Health at Alameda County Public Health Department 2015
- Featured in National video and article in The Atlantic Magazine: The Health Benefits of Going Outside and The Nature Cure 2014,2015 http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/10/the-nature-cure/403210/