BY: Dr. Theresa Sweeney
Have you ever felt the unspoken peace of a sunrise? Do you find the sound of waves rippling gently against the lake shore soothing? Do you feel cheered by the voice of a songbird?
If so, you know the power of Nature to heal. You didn't need to spend years in therapy or in school learning to benefit from these things. Nature touches our soul because we are part of it's wordless perfection. Born of the web of life, outer Nature connects with our inner nature automatically making us feel more alive, energizing our spirits and clearing our minds.
Eco-Art Therapy is a blending of traditional Art Therapy with the emerging science of Applied Ecopsychology (learning to think, feel and relate like Nature's wisdom works). It's a creative process that anyone at anytime can use to consistently think and feel with the unadulterated clarity and happiness that each of us readily enjoys in attractive natural areas. It makes nature not only cathartic, but therapeutic.
Many folks find that words are often inadequate to express their inner most thoughts and feelings so they are turning to these alternative forms of self-understanding and analysis. It is often easier for people to contact underlying hidden beliefs through an art or nature experience than it is through analysis with their logical mind. This is not surprising to researchers and psychologists who are discovering that abstract stories built from the sensory-disconnected use of words are what cause a patient pain, leading him or her to seek therapy in the first place. Simply talking about the problem can further intellectualize and distance one from their emotions.
Both Art Therapy and Applied Ecopsychology seek the same outcome as conventional ‘talk therapy’--personal insight, conflict resolution, inner healing and self-discovery--but go beyond a purely rational discussion of the issues troubling clients. They attempt to address the gaps in more conventional verbal counseling through a mediated exchange, via art or nature, of information between the repressed areas of one’s personal psyche and their conscious thoughts. My research has proven that they are even more powerful when combined.
I am the founder of Eco-Art therapy. I developed and validated this new modality during the late 90's during the pursuit of my doctorate in Applied Ecopsychology. Over the years I created an extensive collection original experiential art and nature activities that anyone of any age can use for personal healing and self-discovery. The philosophy, process and activities are documented in my book, "Eco-Art Therapy: Creative Activities that let Earth Teach". It's available on Amazon and other online bookstores.
In order to address growing interest and to more broadly share my work I have also put together an online accredited program offered through the Project Nature Connect organization. You can take this enjoyable journey for personal growth and healing, or to obtain professional certification and/or CEU licensing credit. Accredited certification adds value to any resume and practice. The classes will expose you to creative, positive experiences helping to increase self-esteem, improve relationships, increase knowledge about the environment and foster new attitudes towards Mother Earth. You will learn simple art and nature activities that can help you resolve conflicts, solve problems and broaden perspectives about yourself and life that in turn lead to positive change and healing. Click the menu course tab above to learn more.
People of diverse ages, faiths and cultures are brought together through the shared language of art and nature. It holds true to our ancestral traditions; respects and honors our differences and highlights our common bonds. The sacred connection of all creation, felt by us through our artwork and personal experiences in nature, will help us bring ancient natural wisdom to the new cultural story, bettering ourselves and the world in which we live.
Join the great awakening! Let Nature bring you back home into your natural love for yourself, others, and Earth.
Joyful eARThly discoveries!
Dr. Theresa Sweeney