How to become an Eco Therapist

How to Become an Ecotherapist

We hear the term therapist bandied about quite often.  There are so many different types of therapist – physiotherapist, psychotherapist, occupational therapist. A therapist is basically someone who is skilled at a particular type of therapy.

Therapists can focus on mental or physical health or a mixture of both.

Ecotherapy is a relatively new term, but one that has become increasing prevalent in the modern world.


Ecoanxiety, Anxiety and Depression

Worldwide, people are recognising the changes that are occurring –

  • Climate change
  • Floods, typhoons, droughts
  • Wars
  • Pandemics and disease

This has led to growing levels of anxiety in the people of the world. 

The University of York and Global Futures found that 78% of people have some level of fear about the climate, with 41% feeling very fearful.  Ecoanxiety is the fear that we are facing an impending cataclysm, that a violent and large scale event will affect the natural world. People with ecoanxiety can feel a daily fear that this cataclysm is coming.

However, ecotherapists do not just focus on people with ecoanxiety. Ecotherapists also work with people who experience other mental health conditions, such as –

  • Anxiety generally
  • Depression
  • And other mental health conditions

Statistics vary, but it is estimated that 4% – 29% of people worldwide currently experience anxiety. Depression is the leading form of disability worldwide with 4% – 6% of the world estimated to be depressed.


Ecoanxiety and Ecotherapy

Ecotherapists do not work with people with ecoanxiety only. As we have already mentioned, ecotherapists can work with anyone is experiencing a mental health issue.


The Human Animal

Human beings are animals. We are part of nature. We exist in nature and are connected to nature. Recognising that we are part of nature is important to our mental and physical health. Ecotherapists help people to improve their mental and physical health by connecting more with nature in a therapeutic way.

Ecotherapy is mainly being active in natural spaces, spending time in the green world around us. This is why ecotherapy is sometimes also called green therapy.

How Does Ecotherapy Help?

Spending time in nature can help to improve our mental health in various ways.  Research suggests that spending time in, or looking at nature, can –

  • Improve our attention and focus - For example, research by Li and Sullivan of the University of Illinois found that high school students perform better in tests if they can see a green landscape from their classroom. Students who could see greenery showed 13% more attention to their lessons than students who could not see greenery.
  • Spending time with nature can promote relaxation and improve our mood.
  • It can also help to reduce feelings of stress and anger.
  • Ecotherapy is mainly about being active in natural spaces. Not everyone can do this, but if you are spending time outdoors in a green environment, it can help us become more physically active. Research also suggests that exercise helps improve our mood by releasing serotonin. So ecotherapy outdoors has a double benefit – the benefit of being active and the benefits of spending time with nature.
  • Spending time outdoors can help us to develop new friendships and socialise. For example, walking, getting involved in environmental groups and so on.

What Is Ecotherapy?

Ecotherapy builds on these benefits, enabling a form of nature informed therapy. The idea behind ecotherapy is that we are part of nature and nature is part of us. Our minds and bodies are intertwined with nature. We are not separate and isolate from the world around us. We need to be part of nature to be mentally and physically well.

People who are part of nature and the world around them demonstrate more balanced emotions and better mental health.

What do ecotherapists do?

Ecotherapy is a form of talking therapy, like counselling, but with the therapy also involves the additional aspect of being with or near nature.  The idea underling ecotherapy is that we can help improve people’s mental health by helping them to feel more connected emotionally to nature.

Ecotherapists then engage clients in talking therapy, but also in connecting them to nature.

Ecotherapy is usually done outside. For some clients, this can be difficult or impossible, so the ecotherapist will ensure that they have natural objects close to the person inside.


The ecotherapist will encourage the person to experience the natural world using all of their senses -

  • Sight
  • Smell
  • Hearing
  • Touching
  • Tasting (with care of course)
  • Proprioception – the awareness of our body in a natural environment.

All ecotherapists will not use the same methods. They will work with the client using nature and providing individualised support.

For example, they might –

  • Do individual work with a client
  • Provide group sessions in a natural environment

The focus of ecotherapy is to spend time with nature and help the person to improve their mental health. Along the way they may also talk to the ecotherapist and express their thoughts and concerns in a more relaxed and natural environment.

There are many different activities that an ecotherapist may do with their client. This will depend on the client’s needs and abilities. Ecotherapy activities might include –

  • Arts and crafts using natural materials
  • Arts and crafts in a natural environment
  • Walking, jogging, running or cycling outdoors
  • Gardening (this can overlap with horticultural therapy)

It can even become more complex, such as –

  • Rafting
  • Wild swimming
  • Birding
  • Nature walks
  • Wildlife walks
  • Rock climbing


As we said, there is no right way to do ecotherapy. It is a form of therapy where the ecotherapist and the client work together to determine what is the most effective way for the client to improve their own mental health.


Training in Ecotherapy

An ecotherapist will have skills in various areas. For example –

  • Counselling skills – Being able to listen to and support clients who are stressed and distressed.
  • Listening skills
  • A keen interest and knowledge of nature
  • Experience in natural activities

Most importantly an ecotherapist will have a passion and enthusiasm for nature and for helping people to overcome their mental health difficulties.

There is no set path to become an ecotherapist.

  • An ecotherapist may be someone who has been an ecotour guide, for example, and develops their counselling skills as a way to support people who are experiencing mental health difficulties.
  • They may be a counsellor who wants to offer counselling in a more natural environment.
  • They may be someone who is keen on bringing nature to people.
  • They might also have other skills, such as horticultural therapy and want to expand this into ecotherapy.

As we said, there is no right path.


Becoming an Ecotherapist

To become an ecotherapist –

  1. Consider the skills you currently have. Do you need to develop your counselling skills or knowledge of nature?
  2. Do you need to increase your understanding of ecotherapy?

If you are interested in becoming an ecotherapist, then only you can decide the right path for you, but we are here to help.

We offer courses in –

All of which can help you to develop the skills you need to become an ecotherapist.


Humans are a part of nature. Nature is essential to our mental health.  If you would like to : 

  • become more connected to nature
  • support people to improve their relationship with nature
  • help people to improve their mental health

Then learn more about ecotherapy with ACS.


If you are not sure of the right path for you, please do get in touch.

Our psychology and counselling tutors are more than happy to help with any questions you may have?



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