Ecotherapy Practice

Ecotherapy Practice Online Course. Learn to work with nature to improve psychological and physical well-being. Study for professional development or personal wellbeing.

Course Code: BPS220
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn to Apply Nature-Based Therapy.

Study for Professional Development or Self Improvement and Wellbeing

Ecotherapy uses our affinity with nature as a tool to improve physical and psychological wellbeing.

Modern mainstream research increasingly supports the real benefits of ecotherapy.

Ecotherapy is increasingly accepted and applied by both traditional and alternative practitioners as a component in their overall treatment strategies. It is also increasingly recognised and understood as a powerful self-help tool by individuals seeking to improve their own wellbeing.

The practice of ecotherapy recognises the wide range of benefits that the natural world can offer to a person’s general health and well-being. Ecotherapy includes treatments like horticultural therapy, pet therapy, forest bathing and a wide range of nature-based activities. This course is designed to give you a detailed understanding of the full range of practices linked to ecotherapy and the evidence to support their effectiveness as treatment for both psychological and physical conditions.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Nature and Scope of Ecotherapy
    • Applications of ecotherapy
    • Ecopsychology
    • What is ecotherapy?
    • What is involved in ecotherapy
    • Using ecotherapy alongside other therapies
    • The need for mental health interventions
    • General benefits of nature on wellbeing
    • Ecotherapy settings
    • Useful terminology
  2. Theory of Ecotherapy
    • General findings
    • Ecological theories
    • Problems associated with built environments
    • Models underpinning ecotherapy
    • Nature and mental health research
    • Is direct contact with nature necessary?
  3. Ecotherapy Clients
    • General wellbeing benefits
    • Psychological benefits
    • Physical benefits
    • Understanding the body’s responses to stress
    • General barriers to getting involved in ecotherapy
    • How to overcome these barriers
    • Ecotherapy for mental disorders
    • Ecotherapy for physical conditions
    • Specific issues
  4. Intake Assessment and Ecotherapy Resources
    • Interviewing potential clients
    • Interviewing techniques
    • Determining suitability
    • Background history
    • Choosing ecotherapy environments
  5. Environment-Based Ecotherapy
    • Using the environment
    • Types of environment activities
    • Conservation projects
    • Wilderness Therapy
    • Forest bathing
    • Breathing and relaxation exercises
    • Other outdoor activities
  6. Plant-Based Ecotherapy
    • Physical ecotherapy activities
    • Psychological ecotherapy activities
    • Fascination therapy
    • Adventure therapy
    • Horticultural therapy
    • Using the senses
  7. Animal-Based Ecotherapy
    • Bird watching
    • Pet therapy
    • Equine assisted therapy and horse riding
    • Animal habitats
    • Care farming and therapeutic farm activities
    • Interacting with wildlife
    • Using the senses
  8. Indoor Ecotherapy
    • Indoor applications of ecotherapy
    • Workspaces
    • Photographs
    • Growing at home
    • Fresh flowers in the home or ecotherapy space
    • Touching nature
    • Arts and crafts
    • Creating nature indoors
    • Pets and animals indoors
  9. Creativity based Ecotherapy
    • Therapeutic photography
    • Writing therapy
    • Art therapy
    • Music therapy
    • Drama therapy
    • Dance therapy
    • The benefits of creative therapies
  10. Holistic Wellness incorporating Ecotherapy
    • Walking
    • Relaxation
    • Mindfulness
    • Counselling in nature
    • Combining ecotherapy with other modalities
    • Our connection with nature

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss ecotherapy including applications and benefits.
  • Explain different theories underpinning the ecotherapy perspective which support its association with physical and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Evaluate and determine clients for whom ecotherapy may be an appropriate form of therapy.
  • Determine a broad range of resources and how to appropriately use them for ecotherapy.
  • Explain ecotherapy applications that harness the use of different environments.
  • Explain ecotherapy applications that utilise plants in a variety of contexts.
  • Explain ecotherapy applications that utilise animals in a variety of contexts.
  • Explain ecotherapy applications that can be applied indoors.
  • Explain ecotherapy applications that utilise creative and artistic activities in a variety of contexts.
  • Apply ecotherapy to formulate wellness advice that blends with other health and wellbeing initiatives.

What You Will Do

  • Explore people’s perceptions of ecotherapy
  • Identify locations suitable for ecotherapy practices
  • Critical exploration of an established sensory garden
  • Explore people’s perceptions and emotional responses to built environments
  • Explore the integration of green spaces within the built environment
  • Identify and critically examine people’s perceptions of the impact of ecotherapy on general wellbeing
  • Explore the benefits of ecotherapy on individuals presenting with a specific condition that is of interest to you
  • Create an intake questionnaire for use with ecotherapy clients
  • Conduct a risk assessment at a potential ecotherapy location of your choice
  • Initiate networking with practising ecotherapists
  • Evaluate walking meditation as an ecotherapeutic activity
  • Create step by step instructions for a combined breathing/progressive muscle relaxation activity
  • Research gardening as a past time
  • Sensory exploration of a public garden
  • Research community gardening activities
  • Examine the impact of photographs of different animals on the emotions and wellbeing
  • Practise purposeful sensory engagement with animals in nature
  • Brainstorm ecotherapy applications that can be integrated into an indoor setting
  • Gather, arrange and engage with natural objects for use in ecotherapy
  • Evaluate star gazing as an ecotherapeutic activity
  • Research techniques used when photographing nature
  • Explore the integration of writing therapy and ecotherapy
  • Research the application of mindfulness within an ecotherapeutic setting
  • Explore people’s perceptions of their relationship with nature


Ecotherapy can be of value for many, and arguably most people. It is valuable for its restorative effects on stress and just being close to nature appears to have benefits for general wellbeing. For people with mental health disorders, it can help alleviate the symptoms of existing problems or help to control the onset of symptoms such as preventing the onset of depressive episodes or panic attacks. However, this must be stated with some caution. Being outdoors is not comforting for everyone. It can raise anxiety levels in some people or even induce panic. Also, some people do not feel a great affinity towards nature. They may actively dislike spending time with plants or animals, or they may find it boring or irritating. Some people hate the sound of birdsong, the bleating of sheep, or the sound of wind through treetops. Some people do not like being rained on or they may have physical problems like sensitive skin conditions which make exposure to sunlight a problem for them.     

General Psychological Benefits to Clients

Much research shows that spending time in nature can help to reduce negative moods and behaviours, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress 
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Mental fatigue

It can also help promote positive behaviours and moods:

  • Increased attention.
  • Increased cognitive capacity.
  • Increased sense of wellbeing.
  • Improved emotional self-regulation (being able to control your own emotions).
  • Nature can act as a buffer against the negative impacts of the stresses we feel in the modern world.  The hustle and bustle, speed, and noise that we can experience in our daily lives.

Connecting with Others
Having good relationships with others is essential for our mental health and wellbeing. Social support is one of the fundamental needs of human beings and affects our mental health.  Meeting and socialising with others in a natural environment can be beneficial. For example, playing sports outdoors, exercising, walking, picnicking and so on. It does not have to be a formal activity, it can be something simple, such as walking a dog or yourself around the park and saying hello (and maybe having a chat) with people as you go.  

Physical Benefits to Clients

As well as the emotional and psychological benefits, spending time outside can also help us physically: 

  • Taking exercise, walking, and so on - as the levels of obesity in adults and children in the Western world increase, increased levels of exercise can also be of benefit. 
  • Spending time in nature can also lower pulse rates.
  • It can reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that regulates a range of processes in our body, such as our metabolism and immune response. It also has an important role in helping our body respond to stress and is considered the main stress hormone.  In dangerous or negative situations, our body prepares to run or fight (the fight or flight response). For example, if we thought someone was going to attack us, our body would get ready to run or fight.  If we look at the symptoms of the fight or flight response, they include:
    - Increased heartbeat and breathing
    - Paling or flushing of the skin
    - Digestion slows down or stops
    - Blood vessels in some parts of the body are constricted
    - The responses of the salivary glands and lacrimal glands (responsible for tears) are inhibited
    - The pupils dilate
    - The bladder relaxes
    - There is a loss of hearing
    - Tunnel vision
    - Shaking
    - Reduced spinal reflexes

This increased blood flow, blood pressure, and blood sugars give our body extra energy.  The increased muscle tension also increases our speed and strength, thus enabling us to run away or fight if we need to.

  • However, when we are frequently stressed, such as having a stressful job, we can experience frequent and constant stress. This has the result of our body being almost constantly in the fight or flight response and having high levels of cortisol. Therefore, spending time in nature can help to reduce these levels of cortisol (and reduce our body’s negative response to stress).
  • It can improve immune system functioning.

Staying Active
Being active is good for all of us, no matter how we stay active. Going to the gym, doing an exercise class, exercising in our home are all good for us, but being in a natural environment has additional benefits, so taking the time to go out for a walk, spend some time in the real world can help to reduce feelings of sadness, fatigue and anger. Exercising outside for only a few minutes can improve a person’s mood.


Who Should Study this Course?

  • Anyone working in health, fitness or Wellbeing Industries.
  • Counsellors, Counsellors, Coaches
  • Complimentary Health Practitioners, Health Support Professionals
  • Horticultural Therapists, Pet Therapists, Recreation officers and others wanting to better understand Ecotherapy and how to use it in their work.


ACS is an Organisational Member of the Association for Coaching (UK).
ACS is an Organisational Member of the Association for Coaching (UK).
ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).
Long-term member since 1986.
Long-term member since 1986.
 Principal John Mason is a member of the ANZMH. ACS Students are invited to join
Principal John Mason is a member of the ANZMH. ACS Students are invited to join
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112
UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

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