Researching Ecotherapy: Some Interesting Discoveries!

Darrien (my research partner) and I spent much of our time this summer compiling scientific research on different fields within ecotherapy. These include: animal-assisted therapy, benefits for children, economic benefits, exposure to greenspaces (including living near greenspaces), forest bathing, gardening, green exercise, indoor plants, indoor light therapy, viewing images of nature, window views of nature, nature views, nature walks, negative ion exposure, plant scents, sounds of nature, and wilderness therapy. I had not heard of several of these research topics before this summer, so it was interesting to learn how widespread the research in ecotherapy is, especially because it gets very little attention or acknowledgment.

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The Final Post: Concluding my research, but not my promotion of ecotherapy

Alongside my research with Dr. Ibes at the Parks Research Lab, I have been interning for Wildrock Nature Playscape, a non-profit in Crozet, Virginia. Via this internship, I will be leading an ecotherapy retreat for college students. The goal of this retreat is to teach college students what ecotherapy is, and then help them plan an ecotherapy initiative on their college campus. For more information, please contact me at dcspitz@email.wm.edu, as William & Mary students are welcome on this retreat. Most major schools in Virginia will eventually feature an ecotherapy initiative on their campus. Thus, my research at the Parks Research Lab this summer has aided me in promoting ecotherapy to others.

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The Largest Obstacle: Describing ecotherapy research to peers and professionals

The most difficult part of this summer research has been describing my research to others. Ecotherapy is a generally unheard-of field of research, so most people have no idea what it is and what my research could possibly be about. In this article I will try to explain what my research is about. Before I do so, I would like you to think about what Ecotherapy research could be. Why do you think it is so difficult to describe?

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Abstract: Ecotherapy and Park Prescriptions healing through nature

Hello, my name is Alexis Jenkins and I am a sophomore at William & Mary. I am an anthropology and environmental science double major and this summer I will be assisting Professor Dorothy Ibes with her research in the Parks Research Lab.

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Abstract: Ecotherapy interventions encouraging healing through nature

Ecotherapy is a form of psychology that allows nature to encourage growth and healing. This healing can be in the form of stress, cognitive fatigue, or mental illness. Healing with nature has become more important in recent years because humans have broken their deep relationship with nature. Human connection with nature is important because of a term Edward Wilson created called “biophilia,” which describes humans’ innate desire to connect with nature and other life. Recent studies have indicated that ecotherapy practices have reduced stress, depression and anxiety, and have increased pro-social behavior and overall well-being. Some interventions include horticultural therapy and animal-assisted therapy, while more commonplace ecotherapy practices include mindfulness walks, learning more about local nature, spending more time outside in general, and adding more greenspace to an indoor environment.

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