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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Creating Projects for W&M Campus on Ecotherapy

My research for the Parks Research Lab has continued to excite me. Our projects vary each week, and these past two weeks have been particularly rewarding. These projects are for the public to enjoy, which is thrilling because I know that these projects will help William & Mary’s students.

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Greenspace and park time as mental health supplement

I am now halfway through my time as a Research Assistant for Dr. Ibes at the Parks Research Lab (PRL). As is evident from my abstract, Alexis, my research partner, and I are conducting research on ecotherapy, which is the study of how nature and greenspace is healing to human mental and physical health. Our goal for the summer is to promote ecotherapy to local health professionals. Our research involves compiling scientific data about nature’s healing effects, so that health professionals can prescribe nature to patients.  We are also compiling information about local parks, so that doctor’s patients can find parks tailored to their needs.

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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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