Environmental Arts Therapy
Environmental Arts Therapy can be understood as therapy that works with natural materials in natural environments through the unfolding year. In this way, nature can be seen as 'another room' or context as well as 'co-therapist' for the therapy.
In the traditional context of Art Therapy practice, the three-way relationship process (i.e. the art, psychotherapist, and client) happens indoors. However, in Environmental Arts Therapy, art psychotherapists are working outdoors, in ways where nature is 'co-therapist' to the process, just as art making is co-therapist within Art Therapy.
'A central feature of ecological therapy is taking clients out of doors and "into nature" – working with the client outdoors but taking the indoors framework of psychotherapy with us… Equally, it is possible to bring the out-of-doors indoors'. (N. Totton, 2012)
Environmental Arts Therapy includes the multiplicity of meanings nature holds for the clients: exploring narratives of connectivity and resilience in nature: working with internal and external issues, listening to and being receptive to nature, as a living process: supporting clients to reposition their sense of themselves within 'the bigger picture'.
Being outdoors allows the therapy process to be experienced across a range of domains (internal/external, self/other, concrete/symbolic, felt/imagined, soma/psyche). It is an embodied process. It helps to develop a deeper relationship with nature and the natural world having a deeply powerful impact on us, facilitating an increased sense of agency and helping establish on-going strategies to cope with personal difficulties.
Eco Psychologists remind us that as a species we are co-created in nature and as individuals we cannot exist, or be understood, without the wider systems we belong to because of this biological bond with the natural world. (Rust & Totton 2012)
Some of the benefits that modern research have discovered when being outdoors in nature are:
- Reduction of anxiety, anger, depression, obesity, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- Restoration of focus and attention span
- Increase of energy and vitality
- Increase of sensory awareness and perception
- Increase of self-esteem, empathy, kindness and compassion
- Fostering of healthier ageing
- Calms the nervous system
When nature is brought in to the therapeutic frame, we directly introduce widening circles of our relational world and working with aspects of connection with and separation from those wider circles of rationality is at the core of Environmental Arts Therapy.
Jones, V. (2015). The Greening of Psychotherapy. BAAT Newsbriefing, July 2015
Jones, V. https://www.vanessajones.org/what-is-ecotherapy
Ivens, S. (2018). Forest Therapy
I am a fully qualified Art Psychotherapist and comply with Health and Safety regulations highlighting clearly issues to be aware of in the outside environment. Therefore, offering participants the opportunity to work safely outdoors in nature.
Sessions are suitable for clients living with mental health conditions, including anxiety, stress, depression and social isolation. I offer the opportunity to work safely outdoors, and with nature, weaving in these wider perspectives into a clear and boundaried psychotherapy relationship.
Before we work together it is advisable to have assessment meeting. If you agree that Environmental Arts Therapy would be beneficial for you then it would be expected that you come once a week for at least 3 months.
Depending on the weather and site circumstances, some sessions may occur indoors at the Brentwood Arts Therapy Centre with the use of natural materials.
If you are interested in engaging with Environmental Arts Therapy please contact me at or call on 07715601222
Before we work together it is advisable to have assessment meeting. If you agree that Environmental Arts Therapy would be beneficial for you then it would be expected that you come once a week for at least three months.
Assessment: 50 minutes - £50
Individual Sessions for adults: 50 minutes - £70
Art Therapy (Closed Group) for adults: 1.5 hours - £150
Up to 8 clients
What is a closed group?
Closed Art Therapy groups (meaning no one new can join once the group has begun), where participants make a commitment to come regularly, to uphold each others' confidentiality and to address and explore specific goals through art-making and verbal sharing.
It will be a mixture of working outdoors and indoors depending on the weather conditions and mainly using natural materials for the art making.
I operate a sliding scale for students and for clients on reduced income, which can be discussed at the assessment meeting.
If client is unable to attend a session because of extenuating circumstances, it is the client responsibility to inform the Art Therapist in advance by phone or e-mail with no less than 48 hours notice for rearrangement. If client cancels a session with less than 24 hours notice and it cannot be rearranged, client will be charged in full. The Art Therapist keeps the slot for the client. The Art Therapist still works within the allocated time of the session even in the absence of the client, it is part of the therapy process in psychodynamics.
In the event of bad weather or other circumstances beyond the Art Therapist's control, the session will be carried out indoors in the Brentwood Arts Therapy Centre.
Environmental Arts Psychotherapy is at the Brentwood Arts Therapy Centre at 9, Hatch Road, Pilgrims Hatch, Brentwood, Essex, CM15 9PU. There is plenty of car park outside the Centre. The bus route is the 37 (First Essex), every 20 minutes. The stop is at the beginning of Hatch Road by the corner shops. The Centre is opposite the bus stop. The Centre’s front door is wheelchairs accessible but not the toilet.