Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

MAE - Master of Arts in Expressive Therapies


Expressive Therapies


Denise Malis


Eco-Psychology and Eco-therapy are emerging theory and approach to mental health counseling which attempt to fill a call within the practice of psychology to consider the relationship of the individual with nature. In the United States this developed through the work of several different professionals and disciplines following the Green Movement in the 1980’s, newfound attention was focused on the relationship between humans, the earth, and the effects of global climate change on both parties. Meanwhile in Europe, the development of the Care Farm Model and multifunctional agriculture emerged as a response to unhealthy farming practices as well as an increasing need to support vulnerable populations such as people with severe mental illness, developmental disabilities etc. Despite the success of Care Farming there remains a lack of literature available to support the potential of eco-therapy due to the relative youth of the field. In the following literature review, several academically reviewed articles were surveyed and organized by populations and/or diagnoses served to discover the practical applications of eco-therapy as they exist currently. Most importantly however, this literature review intends to investigate how Eco-therapy and Art Therapy might be complementary and how the fields might be integrated to inform one another. Following the review, it was concluded that, while eco-therapy is quite promising in regard to the physiological benefits and stress relieving effects, there was an overall lack of information and access, especially in the United States. Plus, there was little research to support the integration of the two modalities. While both fields have potential for treating areas of the human psyche like the mind-body connection that are often neglected by the mainstream mental health system, more information is needed to fully understand the possibilities for modern mental health treatment if art and eco-therapies were to be combined.

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