Date of Award
MCM - MA Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Dr. Elizabeth Kellogg
There is increasing research on the benefits of incorporating nature-based approaches into mental health. This can be done in myriad ways both in and out of the counseling office. This literature review focuses on the benefits of incorporating nature as co-therapist and kin rather than only material or metaphor, particularly in the treatment of people who have experienced trauma and or marginalization. According to Herman (1997), wounds made relationally must be healed relationally, and the literature reviewed in this paper suggests that connection with the “more-than-human” world (Abram, 1996), and coming back into a sense belonging in the larger web of life, can be a part of this relational healing. Expressive arts therapy draws on many practices that are relational, embodied, and nonverbal. These are all aspects shown to support both nature connection and trauma recovery, suggesting great potential for expressive arts therapy to assist with both. The author reviewed literature from trauma studies, ecopsychology, ecotherapy, expressive arts therapy, as well as material from other relevant authors and practitioners, to demonstrate the important role of relationship for humans, highlight ways in which nature connection can aid in trauma recovery, and how expressive arts therapy can help facilitate and deepen that connection. Herman’s stages of trauma recovery are used to organize and highlight ways some practitioners are incorporating nature connection. The author uses a feminist paradigm of trauma, which acknowledges the impact of living as part of a marginalized or targeted group (Brown, 2004).
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Newcomb, Jesse, "Back to Belonging: Nature Connection and Expressive Arts Therapy in the Treatment of Trauma and Marginalization" (2019). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 219.
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