Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ecoplay Group starting soon!

What is Ecoplay?

Ecoplay is an eight-session online program that trains parents how to do Ecoplay with their children. Each session is designed to give parents and their children the opportunity for experiential activities outdoors that combine mindfulness, ecopsychology and the skills of family resilience and play therapy.

How does Ecoplay Training Work?

Ecoplay is an eight-session program that teaches parents how to use the healing powers of mindfulness and nature to help their children. The classes meet once per week, starting in June 2018, for eight weeks.  Classes are generally held in outdoor settings on hiking trails near Table Rock,  in north Greenville County, South Carolina.

How Can Ecoplay Help My Child?

Ecoplay is about reconnecting to nature, and reconnecting to your children. It is a relationship-based program that utilizes the skills of mindfulness and the power of nature to facilitate change. This positive parenting model teaches parents how to play with their children in an outdoor setting in ways that allow children to build confidence and resilience while having fun!

A large and growing body of research has demonstrated nature’s power to heal and facilitate growth. Ecoplay allows you to tap into this power to build resiliency and well-being in your family and in your relationships to your children and to nature.

Course Information

The course consists of eight sessions:

Session 1: Intro to Ecoplay
Ecoplay is an evidence-based eight-session training program designed to give parents and their children the opportunity for experiential activities outdoors that combine mindfulness, ecopsychology and the skills of positive parenting. Ecoplay is an authoritative, rather than authoritarian, approach to discipline and parenting. It is a framework for guiding your child(ren) to reconnect to nature in healing ways. Ecoplay trains parents to be nature-based play therapy facilitators for their own children. It is also a theoretical framework and approach to parenting that allows children to express themselves in play, their natural language. Ecoplay allows this expressive play to happen in healthy natural outdoor environments.

Session 2: Compassion
We can talk about problems all day, but until we start talking about solutions, nothing gets solved. Ecoplay focuses on family strengths and connections. It is a solution-focused approach that looks more at what’s working than what’s not working. The Pygmalion Effect teaches us that people tend to become what you expect them to become. If you expect good things from your children, you generally get good things from them. However, if you expect “bad” things from your children by focusing on problems rather than on solutions, your children tend to engage in the behaviors you expect. Ecoplay’s compassionate approach is a positive parenting model designed to catch your children being good by focusing on solutions.

Session 3: Communication
Ecoplay is based on mindful communication strategies. What we say is not always what our children hear. Many of the difficulties in parenting occur due to miscommunications. These communication errors usually occur when our children assume that we meant something different than what we actually said, or when we assume that our children mean something different than what they actually said. By learning proactive, mindful communication strategies we can learn to communicate our intentions in ways that lead to the results we want. In mindful communication we learn to be in the moment with each other, without concerns about the past or the future. In the moment we are able to truly hear and validate each other. From here healing can happen.

Session 4: Control
Ecoplay takes the stance that there is no such thing as a “wrong” feeling. What may be “wrong,” or unproductive, is the way we choose to respond to our feelings. With Ecoplay we learn to respond in positive ways to feelings so that our interactions do not become problematic. We all like to feel that we have some measure of control over our lives. Children are no exception to this rule. Parenting difficulties sometimes come when get caught up in power struggles over control issues with our children.

Session 5: Choices
Ultimately, maturing into adulthood means learning to make good choices. The only way to learn to make good choices is to have the opportunity to make not-so-good choices. Ecoplay uses the power of choice-giving and choice-making to allow your children to gain confidence on their journey to adulthood. If we can change our thoughts and feelings, we can change our worlds. Our choices are the result of our beliefs. Our beliefs are a result of our thoughts and assumptions about the world and about our children. If our choices are leading to consequences we don’t want, we can consciously change our choices by challenging the thoughts and beliefs that led to them. By changing our choices, we learn to create consequences that we do want for ourselves and for our children.

Session 6: Consequences
Every choice has a consequence. By skillful used of consequences we teach our children self-control and personal responsibility. By linking consequences to choices we teach our children to think for themselves and to take responsibility for their own actions. Every choice is the result of a belief. Each behavioral choice leads to consequences. By examining the consequences of our choices through examining the thoughts, feelings and beliefs that led to those choices, we learn to create different consequences.

Session 7: Consistency
Consistent consequences for consistent choices helps your child to learn self-confidence in a safe, predictable environment. While maintaining consistency can be hard, parents who are able to achieve a level of consistency with their children will reap the rewards. The key to developing consistency is to change the way your family thinks about things. Such a paradigm shift becomes possible by living in the moment. By shifting the focus to the present, we help our children to regain control of their behaviors in the present so that they can choose a different future.

Session 8: Confidence
Everyone has two images of self: The person they see themselves as and the person they’d like to be. Your children are no different. They are in the process of discovering who they are. With your guidance, they can gain the confidence to explore their futures. Ecoplay at its core is concerned with helping children and family members express the persons they were born to be. Doing so allows your child to live a life of confidence.

For more information or to register, complete the form below.

 

New Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Group for 2018

The first Mindful Ecotherapy Conference in 2010.

The Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy group for 2018 is now forming!

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy is a 12-week program that meets once per week on the hiking trails near Table Rock, in Pickens County,  South Carolina north of Greenville.  Sessions are usually 90 minutes long, with a one-hour topic and an optional 30-minute question and answer discussion.

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy is excellent for depression, anxiety, trauma, and anger management issues. Chuck Hall has been teaching the program in its various incarnations since the first conference in 2010 at the Mountain Retreat in Highlands, North Carolina. Since that time the program has grown and is now being taught all over the world. With the publication of the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook in 2015, the program has expanded in popularity and reach.

Join Chuck Hall, the creator of the program and author of the workbook, for this annual event!

Click here to learn more about the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Program.

ENROLLING

Complete the enrollment form at the bottom of this page to reserve your space. No payment is due until May 1, 2018. Completing the form below just reserves your space. You will be sent payment info once the class forms. Classes require a minimum of five people to start, and class attendance is capped at the first twenty (20) participants. These classes fill up quickly, and they are only offered once per year, so register now if you’re interested! Deadline for registration is April 30, 2018!

PRICES

There are two options for payment for the classes:

PAY AS YOU GO: The first option is pay-as-you-go at a rate of $40 per session.  There are 12 sessions in the program.

COMPLETE PACKAGE: The second option is to pay for all twelve sessions at once at a rate of $450. This option includes a free copy of the  Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook valued at $20, plus a discount off the pay-as-you-go rate of $30, for a total savings of $50.

NO PAYMENT IS DUE UNTIL REGISTRATION DEADLINE OF MAY 1, 2018.

Completing the Registration Form below does not obligate you to pay for classes until the registration date of May 1, 2018. On April 30, 2018 you will be sent payment information. The registration below reserves your space in the class.

CLASS SCHEDULE

The classes meet once per week on Saturdays starting May 5, 2018. Classes are from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and will meet at several different locations in the Table Rock and Bald Rock, South Carolina areas. Classes are outdoors on hiking trails that are light to moderate exertion.  Classes meet on Saturdays starting on May 5 with the following exceptions:

July 14, 2018

Classes will conclude on the last Saturday of July, 2018. Instructor reserves the right to alter schedule as appropriate due to weather, sickness, or other unforeseen scheduling conflict.

NOTE: If you elect the complete package option, there are no refunds for missed sessions.

This is the program for the general public. Click here you are looking for the Facilitator Training for Mental Health Professionals.

 

 

What is Ecotherapy?

For most of its existence homo sapiens has lived in harmony with nature as hunter/gatherers. Such a lifestyle requires a vast knowledge of the seasons, and of the patterns and habits of wildlife, and of plants and herbs and their healing powers. Industrialization and urbanization are fairly recent phenomena on an evolutionary scale. We still carry the genetic memory of our ancestors who lived in untamed nature. Our brains are wired for the outdoors and nature. A growing body of research demonstrates that not only do we feel better when we make time for nature, it is actually a requirement for good physical and mental health!

The field of ecopsychology studies how humans interact with nature. Ecopsychology is a philosophy combining elements of psychology and ecology. It is the philosophy that mental health is contingent upon the health of the environment. Humankind and the environment are part of an interrelated system. We are not separate from nature. We are a part of nature.

At its core, ecopsychology suggests that there is a synergistic relation between planetary and personal well-being; that the needs of the one are relevant to the needs of the other. In short, what we do to the environment, we do to ourselves. Ecotherapy is the practical application of this knowledge. In ecotherapy nature is the “therapist.” In practicing the techniques of ecotherapy, we allow the healing power of nature to work its magic on us. Hölzel et al (2011) demonstrated that meditative states of mindfulness stimulate neural growth in the cerebral cortex in the areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, good judgment, insight, and impulse control. Nature experiences have been demonstrated in several studies to produce meditative states (fascination, relaxation, and mindfulness).

Experiences in and with nature, or natural experiences, are ways in which we consciously choose to allow nature to work its healing magic on us. Some types of natural experiences include:

Facilitated Wilderness Experiences

In these types of experiences, a trained facilitator takes you into the woods for an adventure. These events can be anything from a wilderness experience in ecotherapy led by a therapist or counselor, to a hunting trip led by a wilderness guide. Kuo & Taylor (2004) demonstrated that therapy and other activities conducted in outdoor settings reduced symptoms of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Whittington (2006) found that wilderness skills training gave adolescent girls increased self-esteem and self-confidence and helped to shatter gender stereotypes.

Animal Assisted Therapy

Animal therapy in the form of contact with pets and/or wild or domesticated animals enhances self-actualization and can lessen symptoms of depression. Antonioli & Reveley (2005) found that simply swimming with dolphins can greatly reduce symptoms of depression. Other studies have shown that owning pets, or even just watching fish in an aquarium, can greatly reduce stress. Equine Therapy uses horses to facilitate mental and physical wellbeing. There are many other ways that animals can help us lead happier lives, as any pet owner can tell you!

Therapeutic Gardens

Sempik & Spurgeon (2006) demonstrated that therapeutic gardening reduces stress and lessens symptoms of depression. Blair (2009) discovered that gardening can be used as a means of helping school children to enhance self-sufficiency, social identity, meaning, and self-integration. There’s just something very healing about planting something and nurturing it as you watch it grow.

Vacations

Sponselee, et al (2004) discovered that outdoor activities reduce stress and restore energy. If you’ve ever had to miss a vacation, you’re probably painfully aware of the regenerative power of taking a week or so off to spend time in nature. Roggenbuck & Driver (2000) found that you don’t need a facilitator or guide to enjoy health and well-being benefits from the use of wilderness areas. There’s a reason we’re attracted to beaches and national parks!

Architecture Incorporating Natural Spaces

Nature can be incorporated into the home environment through the use of plants, an aquarium, or even recorded nature sounds. Alvarsson et al (2010) studied the positive mental health effects of listening to nature sounds.

Outdoor Classrooms

Purcell, et all in 2007 revealed that outdoor classrooms enhanced many critical factors of the educational experience, including: Enhanced retention, better focus, more attention to detail, less hyperactivity, more relaxation, increased confidence and self-esteem, and better cognitive functioning

A Tale of Two Wolves

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like drinking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings myself many times.” He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. But the other wolf is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.”

“Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”

A Tale of Two Wolves, from a Cherokee legend as re-told in

The Mindful Mood Management Workbook by Charlton Hall

The more energy we spend on sensing, the less energy we have to spend on thinking. Based on the tale of two wolves above, we could see the two wolves as “thinking wolf” and “sensing wolf.” The more energy you give to sensing wolf, the less energy you give to thinking wolf. The less energy thinking wolf receives, the weaker thinking wolf becomes. Conversely, the more energy sensing wolf receives, the stronger sensing wolf becomes. By shifting from thinking to sensing, you’re not trying to ‘kill’ the thinking wolf. You’re not engaging in doing by trying to make the thinking wolf go away. You’re simply depriving it of energy so that it may eventually go away on its own. Even if it doesn’t go away on its own, you’re not focusing your attention on it. Since your attention isn’t on it, thinking wolf can’t grab you by the throat, refusing to let go.

It could be said that focusing on what your senses are telling you is a type of thinking as well, and that is partially true; however, the difference is that focusing on what your senses are telling you is a type of thinking devoid of emotional content. If you’re in a thinking cycle that is causing you anxiety or depression, then anxiety and depression are emotions. But unless you hate trees for some reason, simply sitting quietly in a forest and observing a tree as if you are an artist about to draw that tree, is an exercise devoid of emotional content. By focusing on the emotionally neutral stimuli found in nature, we give ourselves the opportunity to feed the sensing wolf.

 

School Shootings – Charlton Hall on WSPA Channel 7

Expert advises parents on talking to kids about school shootings

Charlton Hall chairs the behavioral health department at ReGenesis Health Care, and said the school shooting in Parkland, Florida made it to the minds of his patients who’ve dealt with trauma.

“Because it’s just another reminder that the world isn’t always a safe place,” said Hall.

It’s a conversation he said parents need to have in their homes too.

“[Help children] understand that unfortunately, this is the world we live in now and these things do happen,” he said. “The longer you [parents] sweep it under the rug, the more you’re going to have to deal with it at some point in the future.”

Hall advised limiting how much children are exposed to news of these shootings and leave out the graphic details for younger children, while avoiding information they don’t ask for.

“Too much information for a small child would be something like going into graphic detail about what happened, about how many people were killed.Just let them know that something bad happened, and let the child be your guide,” he said. “But, in the same way be realistic. Don’t try to minimize the danger, either.”

He says to remind children school shootings are possible, but not always probable.

“Assure them that they’re safe. Review the procedures with the school,” said Hall “And it’s important that they are looking to you as a role model as well so if they feel stressed out, they’re looking to you as to how to respond to that.”

And, while at their own schools he says kids need to know making threats are never funny.

“If I hear a child making what they think is a joke saying that they’re going to shoot up a school or if a teacher hears that, or any kind of professional who’s a mandated reporter hears that, they’re required by law to report that,” said Hall. “It’s a very serious thing and can impact the rest of your life – it can keep you from getting into college, getting a job.”

New Online Continuing Education Courses

The courses below are currently being developed. Have a course you’d like to see added? Use the contact form below to make a course suggestion! Register to receive this blog if you’d like to be informed of courses as they’re added!

7Cs of Mindful Parenting
ACT: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
ADHD: Non-Medical Approaches to Treatment
ADHD vs. PTSD: Differential Diagnosis and Trauma
DBT-Informed Therapy
Ecoplay
Ecotherapy for Anxiety
Ecotherapy for Depression
Evaluating Research: A Scientific Approach
Gender Identity Disorder and Transgender Issues
Genograms: How to Create and Use Them
Hypnosis: An Introduction
LGBT-Q Clinical Issues
Marriage & Family Therapy: An Introduction
MBFT and Couples Therapy
MBFT in Clinical Practice
Mindful Mood Management (Part A)
Mindful Mood Management (Part B)
Mindful Self-Care for Therapists
Mindful Suicide Prevention
Mindfulness & Addiction
Mindfulness & Depression
Mindfulness & LGBT-Q Issues
Mindfulness & Spanking
Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy
Mindfulness-Based Family Therapy (MBFT)
Mindfulness-Based Family Therapy (MBFT) and Couples Therapy
Narrative Therapy
Neurobiology of Play
Neurobiology of Spanking
Neurobiology of Trauma
Person-Centered Therapy
Play Therapy: A Filial Approach
Play Therapy Supervision: A Mindful Approach
Sand Tray Therapy: An Introduction
Solution-Focused Treatment
Supervision of Counselors and Therapists: A Mindful Approach
Teletherapy: An Introduction
Transgender Therapy: An Introduction
Trauma in Children
Trauma-Informed Treatment
Treatment Plans: How to Create and Use Them

CERTIFICATION IN MINDFULNESS-BASED ECOTHERAPY – COMPLETE PACKAGE $199.95

The long-awaited online version of the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Facilitator Training Program is now available!

This popular series certifies you to be a facilitator of the 12-week Midnfulness-Based Ecotherapy program. This program, based on the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook, is now taught worldwide.  Becoming a certified facilitator of this program allows you to run your own groups, wherever you are. It also affords you access to free online support for the program, plus a free listing on our directory of certified facilitators.

The coursework for the program is listed below:

The MBE Facilitator Training Program is a 60-hour program that includes the following courses:
Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy in Clinical Practice – 25 hours $149.95
Mindfulness: An Introduction – 15 hours – $49.95
Ecotherapy: An Introduction – 10 hours – $29.95
Running a Successful Group – 10 hours $29.95

If you purchased all of these courses separately, your cost would be $259.80, but during this special offer you may purchase the entire certification package of 60 hours of continuing education materials for only $199.95!

 

What is Ecotherapy?

For most of its existence homo sapiens has lived in harmony with nature as hunter/gatherers. Such a lifestyle requires a vast knowledge of the seasons, and of the patterns and habits of wildlife, and of plants and herbs and their healing powers. Industrialization and urbanization are fairly recent phenomena on an evolutionary scale. We still carry the genetic memory of our ancestors who lived in untamed nature. Our brains are wired for the outdoors and nature. A growing body of research demonstrates that not only do we feel better when we make time for nature, it is actually a requirement for good physical and mental health!

The field of ecopsychology studies how humans interact with nature. Ecopsychology is a philosophy combining elements of psychology and ecology. It is the philosophy that mental health is contingent upon the health of the environment. Humankind and the environment are part of an interrelated system. We are not separate from nature. We are a part of nature.

At its core, ecopsychology suggests that there is a synergistic relation between planetary and personal well-being; that the needs of the one are relevant to the needs of the other. In short, what we do to the environment, we do to ourselves. Ecotherapy is the practical application of this knowledge. In ecotherapy nature is the “therapist.” In practicing the techniques of ecotherapy, we allow the healing power of nature to work its magic on us. Hölzel et al (2011) demonstrated that meditative states of mindfulness stimulate neural growth in the cerebral cortex in the areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, good judgment, insight, and impulse control. Nature experiences have been demonstrated in several studies to produce meditative states (fascination, relaxation, and mindfulness).

Experiences in and with nature, or natural experiences, are ways in which we consciously choose to allow nature to work its healing magic on us. Some types of natural experiences include:

Facilitated Wilderness Experiences

In these types of experiences, a trained facilitator takes you into the woods for an adventure. These events can be anything from a wilderness experience in ecotherapy led by a therapist or counselor, to a hunting trip led by a wilderness guide. Kuo & Taylor (2004) demonstrated that therapy and other activities conducted in outdoor settings reduced symptoms of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Whittington (2006) found that wilderness skills training gave adolescent girls increased self-esteem and self-confidence and helped to shatter gender stereotypes.

Animal Assisted Therapy

Animal therapy in the form of contact with pets and/or wild or domesticated animals enhances self-actualization and can lessen symptoms of depression. Antonioli & Reveley (2005) found that simply swimming with dolphins can greatly reduce symptoms of depression. Other studies have shown that owning pets, or even just watching fish in an aquarium, can greatly reduce stress. Equine Therapy uses horses to facilitate mental and physical wellbeing. There are many other ways that animals can help us lead happier lives, as any pet owner can tell you!

Therapeutic Gardens

Sempik & Spurgeon (2006) demonstrated that therapeutic gardening reduces stress and lessens symptoms of depression. Blair (2009) discovered that gardening can be used as a means of helping school children to enhance self-sufficiency, social identity, meaning, and self-integration. There’s just something very healing about planting something and nurturing it as you watch it grow.

Vacations

Sponselee, et al (2004) discovered that outdoor activities reduce stress and restore energy. If you’ve ever had to miss a vacation, you’re probably painfully aware of the regenerative power of taking a week or so off to spend time in nature. Roggenbuck & Driver (2000) found that you don’t need a facilitator or guide to enjoy health and well-being benefits from the use of wilderness areas. There’s a reason we’re attracted to beaches and national parks!

Architecture Incorporating Natural Spaces

Nature can be incorporated into the home environment through the use of plants, an aquarium, or even recorded nature sounds. Alvarsson et al (2010) studied the positive mental health effects of listening to nature sounds.

Outdoor Classrooms

Purcell, et all in 2007 revealed that outdoor classrooms enhanced many critical factors of the educational experience, including: Enhanced retention, better focus, more attention to detail, less hyperactivity, more relaxation, increased confidence and self-esteem, and better cognitive functioning

Doing, Being, Thinking and Sensing

A key aspect of mindfulness is stepping outside of doing mode and entering into being mode.

When we’re caught up in thought and feeling cycles that lead to depression and anxiety, we usually feel that we should be doing something to fix it. The problem with this is that sometimes there is nothing you can do to fix a problem. Mindfulness is a way to escape this cycle of trying to fix things by simply focusing on our moment-to-moment experience. When we are doing this, we are in being mode. In being mode, we are not trying to fix anything. We are not trying to go anywhere. We are not trying to do anything. We are not trying, period. Trying is doing, and being mode isn’t about doing.

In being mode we are free to enjoy our experiences from moment to moment by focusing on what our senses are telling us rather than focusing on trying to find a way out of a problem. When downstairs brain is engaged, and upstairs brain is temporarily disconnected, moving into being mode allows us a little breathing room.

The way to move from doing mode to being mode is to shift our mental energy from thinking mode to sensing mode. Our brains only have a finite of energy to spend on any given task at any given time. If we have a stressful or depressing thought cycle going on, we can shift energy from what our thoughts are telling us by engaging our internal observer to start focusing on what our senses are telling us. As you read this paragraph, can you feel your breath going in and out of your lungs? Were you even aware you were breathing before you read the previous sentence? When caught up in thinking cycles, we’re focusing on the boomerang. But by shifting our attention to our direct experiences and focusing on what our senses are telling us, we’re able to move into sensing mode.

When in sensing mode we are no longer giving energy to ruminating cycles that are leading us to states that we do not want to experience. We are able to move to sensing mode by focusing first on our breathing, then on our direct experiences of the current situation. We do this by using all of our senses, in the moment, to explore the environment around us. What do we hear? What do we see? What do we smell? What do we taste? What do we feel? By asking ourselves these questions, we are able to move into sensing mode.

The more energy we spend on sensing, the less energy we have to spend on thinking. Based on the tale of two wolves, we could see the two wolves as “thinking wolf” and “sensing wolf.” The more energy you give to sensing wolf, the less energy you give to thinking wolf. The less energy thinking wolf receives, the weaker thinking wolf becomes. Conversely, the more energy sensing wolf receives, the stronger sensing wolf becomes. By shifting from thinking to sensing, you’re not trying to ‘kill’ the thinking wolf. You’re not engaging in doing by trying to make the thinking wolf go away. You’re simply depriving it of energy so that it may eventually go away on its own. Even if it doesn’t go away on its own, you’re not focusing your attention on it. Since your attention isn’t on it, thinking wolf can’t grab you by the throat, refusing to let go.

It could be said that focusing on what your senses are telling you is a type of thinking as well, and that is partially true; however, the difference is that focusing on what your senses are telling you is a type of thinking devoid of emotional content. If you’re in a thinking cycle that is causing you anxiety or depression, then anxiety and depression are emotions. But unless you hate trees for some reason, simply sitting quietly in a forest and observing a tree as if you are an artist about to draw that tree, is an exercise devoid of emotional content. By focusing on the emotionally neutral stimuli found in nature, we give ourselves the opportunity to feed the sensing wolf.