Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Rebecca Zarate


This capstone thesis posits that when humans connect and maintain a relationship with nature, their mental health improves. Humans have developed from and within Earth’s ecosystem, making our relationship with nature a necessary acknowledgement that the self is more than a corporeal body but is, in fact, embedded within the natural world around us. The current overwhelming dependence on electronic advancements and the development of urban areas have led people to become more distant in their relationship to nature, putting the overall well-being of the planet in jeopardy. This thesis points out that the more separation we feel from nature, the more callousness we will treat it with, ultimately creating a compounded detrimental impact on the environment. Nature-based expressive arts therapy (NBExAT) is postulated to interrupt this estrangement by providing support to individuals in the ways they can connect and heal this fissure to develop appropriate empathy and compassion towards nature, also known as an eco-identity. A two-hour indoor workshop was offered for the expressive arts therapy graduate student population as an additional tool for replenishment from juggling the high demands of post-graduate learning. The workshop combined expressive arts therapy principles into ecotherapeutic approaches to act as a channel to explore the benefits of directly and indirectly engaging in a relationship with nature. This exploration is referred to as accessing one’s ecosphere or as an embodied exploration of connecting to nature. The results illustrate that intentional sensory contact with nature can promote a restorative experience while simultaneously gaining a deeper connection to nature therefore, increasing empathy towards it.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.




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