Top 10 Ecotherapy Stories of 2013

 Top 10 Ecotherapy Stories of 2013 

Ways that Nature is Helping us Heal and Navigate the Tide.

As the temperature of the planet rises and natural disasters become a yearly event, it is becoming increasingly apparent that we need tools for healing, recovery and resiliency to navigate our way with nature to a brave new world.  In 2013, the idea of nature as good for our health has led to increased scientific research to validate the healing powers of nature, integration of nature-based healing in social justice work, as well as Ecotherapy practices to aid in the restoration of peace after traumatic events.

Right now, if you Google Ecotherapy you will see terms such as nature-therapy, and green therapy which focus on individual level approaches to healing through nature. As an emerging field in the United States, Ecotherapy has yet to define itself beyond mainstream psychological therapy interventions. However, Ecotherapy also addresses community level issues as well.

Ecotherapy, is fast becoming an emerging form of nature-based healing that includes interventions and practices such as:

  • ·       animal-assisted therapy and working with animals for healing
  • ·         horticulture therapy/gardening therapy
  • ·         eco-spiritual mentoring and ceremonies
  • ·         nature based recovery and restoration work. 


And so, here is  EcoSoul’s Top 10 Ecotherapy Stories of 2013 that will hopefully inspire you to not only go out and hug a tree, but stand up to the social injustices that lead to less trees in your community in the first place.


 1: Listening To Birds Sing Make Us More Creative

Scientists in the U.K. to Study Psychological Benefits of Birdsong on our sense of wellbeing and creativity.




2: California Invest Public Funds to Support Gardening for Mental Health

The State of California has invested money in supporting gardening as a mental health intervention. In Fresno, California at the Fresno Center for New Americans the first of six therapeutic gardens launched.




3: Mans Best Friend Comes to Our Rescue

In 2013 in the US we also witnessed more mass gun tragedies, and comfort dogs are helping with the healing. Therapy dogs are increasingly being called into service to help us begin to heal after tragedies.





 4: In Oakland, CA An Otter Makes A Comeback

Oakland, California home of the Black Panther Party as well as Lake Merritt the oldest wildlife refuge in the United States, finds that the first spotting of an Otter in “living memory” signals a restoration of the ecosystem.  Let’s hope the sign of the Otter points to a recovery for the citizens of Oakland as well.







     5: Green Worker Owned Cooperatives As Ecotherapy

After Superstorm Sandy folks in Queens, NY and other places were displaced. In an effort to restore their labor and their community new worker owned cooperatives are being formed.  As natural disasters become increasingly commonplace, communities are fighting back against “disaster capitalism” and for the right to own the fruits of their labor. The rise of green worker owned co-ops reflect the resiliency of communities in the service of the planet and justice.






6: EcoSoul Represents at SF Green Festival Gets Published in Journal of Ecopsychology

As an Ecotherapist of color I hug trees, listen to bird songs, and pray at the river while also fighting for social and ecological justice. In 2013, I stepped out with this message of healing presenting at the San Francisco Green Festival on Regeneration: Healing Through Nature, Ritual and Community.   My essay on Creating a New Story in Ecopsychology will be published in January 2014 in the Journal of Ecopsychology and addresses the need for racial/cultural diversity in the field in Ecotherapy.

Catherine Herrera Photography



7: Coming Soon to a Doctor’s Office Near You: Nature Prescriptions

The American Public Health Association, the leading organization for public health professionals adopts first ever policy statement on the importance of access to Nature for good health.

Next question– will Obamacare pay for it?




8:Texas Leads the Way in Restoration Not Incarceration ™

The Great Plains Restoration Council a non-profit leader in Houston, TX  founded by author, and vegan eco-activist Jarid Manos leads the way in restoring human bodies, minds and spirits through restoring the prairies  in Texas.  Their new initiative Restoration Not Incarceration ™ is a model program combining ecological restoration with social work.

   Great Plains Restoration Council Photo





9: The Mathematical Genuis of Plants

Okay, this is on the list just because no matter what you think of green healing to know that plants are doing math just blows my mind!



10: Got a Headache? Go Hug A Tree

Research on tree hugging points to the power of trees to alleviate headaches and improve our mental well-being.



If you enjoyed this list please forward to friends and colleagues.

Thank you!

Copyright 12.28.13: J. Phoenix Smith, Ecotherapist

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