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Ecoplay for ADHD

Ecoplay for ADHD

Outdoor play has been demonstrated to be effective in treating a wide variety of disorders and behavioral issues. One of the most effective applications of outdoor play lies in the treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Later this year, the Mindful Ecotherapy Center will be releasing our eight-week Ecoplay program. Ecoplay teaches parents how to use the healing powers of mindfulness and ecotherapy to benefit their children and themselves. One of the ways that Ecoplay might benefit your family is through the use of Ecoplay for ADHD.

Parents of children under the age of six are justifiably concerned about administering ADHD medications to children that young. Per new clinical guidelines for the treatment of ADHD, updated in 2019 by the American Pediatrics Association, Parent Training & Behavior Management (PTBM) is recommended rather than medication for children under six.

PTBM is also recommended in conjunction with medication for children over the age of six who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Ecoplay for ADHD is a type of Parent Training and Behavior Management (PTBM) in that the tools of Ecoplay teach parents how to model behavior for their children while setting effective limits with the child in an outdoor, natural environment. This means that the upcoming Ecoplay program can help you and your child manage the symptoms of ADHD while playing outdoors.

Benefits of Ecoplay for ADHD

Kuo and Taylor (2004) demonstrated that, “…green outdoor activities reduced symptoms significantly more than did activities conducted in other settings, even when activities were matched across settings. Findings were consistent across age, gender, and income groups; community types; geographic regions; and diagnoses. Green outdoor settings appear to reduce ADHD symptoms in children across a wide range of individual, residential, and case characteristics.”

According to their study, the “greener” the activity, the better the results. In other words, walking on a hiking trail yielded better results than walking on a playground, and walking on a playground yielded better results than walking through a suburb. And playing outside was definitely a better option than playing inside.

One possible contributor to the benefits of spending time outdoors might be the increased opportunity for physical exercise. In general, the more aerobic the exercise, the greater the benefits to children with ADHD.

According Harwood et al (2019), “…although all behavioral interventions designed to aid ADHD seem to have a positive effect on cognitive symptomology, physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise that included targeting executive functions, appears to be the most effective.”

The eight-week Ecoplay program to be released by the Mindful Ecotherapy Center later this year joins the benefits of mindful parenting with ecotherapy to help you and your children reap the benefits of the healing power of nature. Ecoplay for ADHD could be one of those benefits.

Subscribe to our newsletter to be informed when the Ecoplay program is released.


Kuo, Frances E., and Taylor, Andrea Faber (2004). A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study (Am J Public Health. 2004;94:1580–1586)

Lambez B, Harwood-Gross A, Golumbic EZ, Rassovsky Y. Non-pharmacological interventions for cognitive difficulties in ADHD: a systematic review and meta-analysis [published online October 9, 2019]. J Psychiatr Res. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.10.007

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MBE Facilitator Training – May 2020

2010 Mindful Ecotherapy Retreat - Subscribe to be informed of future events

Our LIVE Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Facilitator Training for 2020 has been scheduled! Keep reading for details!

Click here to purchase tickets for this course

What is Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy?

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) is a blending of Mindfulness and Ecotherapy. MBE uses nature to facilitate mindful awareness. MBE is used as a framework for helping individuals and families to find deeper connections in their own lives, and to give more meaning and enjoyment to the activities of daily living.

2009 Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Retreat
2009 Mindful Ecotherapy Retreat, Highlands NC

The Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Program consists of 12 skill sets facilitated by the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook. Price of retreat includes a copy of this workbook in pdf format. Paperback copies of the workbook will be available for purchase at the event.

The Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy program is a 12-week program, with one session per week. At each session, one of the 12 skills of Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy is discussed and practiced.

This course, consisting of 35 hours of online education and 25 hours of live, face-to-face education in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, certifies you to be a facilitator of the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Program.

When is this live training?

May 4-8, 2020 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the offices of the Mindful Ecotherapy Center at:

Offices on Eleven
3598 Highway 11
Suite 226
Travelers Rest SC 29690

We will meet at the picnic area to the right side of the building. If you are facing the building (pictured below), the picnic area is on the right end of the building. Park and take the sidewalk.

In case of inclement weather, we will be meeting inside at the office of the Mindful Ecotherapy Center. To get to this office, drive to the back side of the building and park. Facing the back side of the building, go into the door on the right. The Mindful Ecotherapy Center is the first office on the right when you enter the building, suite 226.

Mindful Ecotherapy Center

Who should attend?

This training is for mental health professionals who want to expand their skill sets in mindfulness and ecotherapy. This course contains 35 hours of online education and 25 hours of live, face-to-face education for a total of 60 continuing education hours.

3rd annual ecospirituality retreat, 2012
3rd Annual Ecospirituality Retreat, 2012

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy consists of 12 skill sets. The Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy program is a 12-week program, with one session per week. At each session, one of the 12 skills of Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy is discussed and practiced. At this live training, we will be covering all 12 sessions of the program in a week-long intensive (see schedule below). In addition to this 25-hour live training, there are three online components to be completed prior to the retreat. These online components consist of an additional 35 hours of online training required to become a Certified Facilitator of Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy.

These online components are:

  • Mindfulness: An Introduction – 15 online and experiential hours
  • Ecotherapy: An Introduction – 10 online and experiential hours
  • Running a Successful Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Group – 10 online hours

If you plan to attend this live training in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, you will be sent links and instructions on how to complete the online components prior to attending the live, face-to-face retreat. The online components are self-paced, but must be completed prior to attending the retreat.


Price of this retreat does not include accommodations. There are several hotels and campgrounds in the area. Links to a few are provided below (list below does not imply endorsement of any particular business).

Schedule for the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) Training:

May 4, 2020 Morning Session

Session 1: Mindful Awareness
Mindful Awareness is a way of tuning in to what is happening right now, at this moment. It is a shift from doing mode into being mode. Mindful Awareness involves the skills of Observing, Describing, Fully Participating, Being Non-Judgmental, Focusing on One Thing at a Time, and the Power of Intention. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) teaches you these skills.

Session 2: Radical Acceptance
Mindful Awareness teaches us the art of acceptance. Emotional reactions to our circumstances are natural, but that doesn’t mean that we have to respond to these emotions. The mindfulness skill of acceptance teaches us that we can experience these emotions without engaging in cycles of behavior that lead us to negative consequences. Acceptance teaches us that we are not our thoughts, and that we are not our emotions. At any time we can choose which thoughts and emotions we wish to respond to. If, at any time, we should engage in thoughts and behaviors that lead to negative consequences, this does not mean that we have become bad persons. This simply means that we are human beings, and as humans we are entitled to make mistakes. Each mistake is an opportunity for growth and learning. Forgiveness is a skill and an art. The place to start with learning the art of forgiveness is in learning first to forgive ourselves when we make mistakes. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) teaches you the art of Radical Acceptance.

May 4, 2020 Afternoon Session

Session 3: Wise Mind and Wise Body
When you are being logical, rational, and devoid of emotion, you are said to be in Rational Mind. When you are allowing your thoughts to be driven by your emotions, you are said to be in Emotional Mind. The idea of Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy is to achieve Wise Mind. The Mindfulness concept of Wise Mind is the joining of Rational Mind and Emotional Mind in perfect balance and harmony. It is a moving beyond opposites to a mindful state of acceptance. Likewise, when we come to realize that there is no line between mind and body, and that they are one and the same, we are able to move beyond the duality that implies that mind and body are separate entities. From there we see that the body can change the mind, and the mind can change the body. Wise Mind is the first step to living in True Self. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) gives you some of the tools you will need to help you develop your own Wise Mind and your own Wise Body.

Session 4: Letting Go
The art of Mindful Acceptance can best be described as the Art of Letting Go. Once you have done everything in your power to solve a problem, you have done all you can, so at that point worry and stress is counterproductive. Note that letting go of the stress and anxiety doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of the problem itself. For example, suppose you have a car payment coming up, and you don’t have the money to pay it. This would naturally cause you anxiety. If, after brainstorming for solutions, you find that you still don’t have the money to pay the car payment, then at that point you’ve done all you can do. So at that point, you let go of the anxiety associated with the problem. That doesn’t mean that you let go of car payments altogether. You’ll make the payment when you can. In this instance, “letting go” just means that you won’t worry about not being able to make the payment. The energy you might have used worrying about the situation could be put to better use in trying to come up with solutions. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) teaches us how to let go through the power of radical acceptance.

May 5, 2020 Morning Session

Session 5: Living in the Now
Living in the Now means leaving Doing Mode and entering Being Mode. In Being Mode we learn that there is no past, there is no future. There is only this present moment. Living in the Now means allowing yourself to be in this moment…here and now. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) teaches you the skills of Living in the Now.

Session 6: Centering
Centering yourself is allowing yourself to get in touch with and being open to your True Self. It is allowing yourself to realize that you are perfect just as you are, even with your imperfections, because those feelings and desires are also a part of who you really are. If you accept your imperfections and integrate them into your way of thinking and feeling about yourself, you will obtain peace of mind, and you will be centered. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) teaches you how to Center.

May 5, 2020 Afternoon Session

Session 7: Connecting
Suppose you could take all the spiritual paths practiced worldwide, put them into a cauldron, and boil them down to their essence. What would remain? I believe that the common thread to all spiritual practices is a feeling of connection. In this sense, spirituality means connection to others, or connection to the divine, or simply connection to nature and to ourselves. In short: spirituality is connectedness. If you think back on the spiritual experiences you’ve had in your lifetime, do recall feeling connected on some level? Many describe spiritual experiences as a sense of oneness. Oneness implies connection to something outside ourselves. In this sense, even an agnostic or an atheist could achieve spirituality through connection. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) can be one of the paths you use to re-connect to spirit.

Session 8: Nature as Metaphor
Each of us lives in our own personal fairy tale called “my life.” We all have good things that happen to us, and we all have bad things that happen to us. We create our own personal myths by choosing which things to focus on in our own lives. The good news about the myth of our lives is that we are the authors. So if we don’t like the way the story is going, we have the power to do a rewrite at any time. We can’t always choose the circumstances of our lives, but we can always choose the story we create about those circumstances. If you go out into the woods and start observing things, you will notice something begin to happen. You will begin to create stories about the events you observe there in the forest. These stories that spring to mind in the woods can tell you a great deal about what is going on in your own unconscious mind, if you know how to pay attention to them. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) teaches you how to pay attention to those stories.

May 6, 2020 Morning Session

Session 9: Nature as Teacher
Our ancestors knew hundreds of medicinal uses of local plants and herbs. They knew the seasons, when to plant, when to harvest, how to forecast the weather by the behavior of plants and animals, and a host of other things based on their observations of nature. The lessons our ancestors learned haven’t gone away. They’re still there, waiting in the forest like an open book. All we have to do is to learn how to read it. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) teaches us the language of nature so that we may read its “book.”

Session 10: Nature as Nurture
A large and growing body of research has demonstrated that nature has incredible healing and nurturing powers. People who go into the woods become calmer, more relaxed, less stressful, and healthier. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) can be used to tap into the nurturing power of nature.

May 6, 2020 Afternoon Session

Session 11: Nature as Healer
Research continues to demonstrate the healing power of nature. People in hospital rooms that have windows overlooking a garden recover faster than those who do not. People who swim with dolphins recover from depression more quickly than people who take antidepressants. Children with ADHD who play outdoors regularly display fewer symptoms than those who do not. These are just a few examples of the many beneficial effects of the healing power of nature. Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) helps you to connect to this healing power

Session 12: Living in True Self
Do you remember a time when you knew exactly who you were, what you wanted to be, and where your life was going? When you do something that isn’t healthy for you, or make a mistake, which part of you is it that recognizes the mistake? What part of you is it that holds the highest dreams and aspirations for your life? Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) recognizes that part of you as your True Self. The ultimate goal of Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) is to realize your True Self, and to live in it. Doing so allows you the opportunity to re-connect in positive ways with nature, with others, and with yourself.

May 7, 2020 Morning Session

Reflections on the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Program
At this morning session we will process any questions students may have about the program overall.


Marketing the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Program
At this morning session we will discuss some special considerations about marketing a Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy program.

May 7, 2020 Afternoon Session

Running a Successful Group Part I
At this afternoon session we will cover questions and answers about Part A of the online course: Running a Successful Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Group


Running a Successful Group Part II
At this afternoon session we will cover questions and answers about Part B of the online course: Running a Successful Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Group

May 8, 2020 Morning Session

Intro to Mindfulness Part I
At this morning session we will cover questions and answers about Part I of the online course: Mindfulness: An Introduction


Intro to Mindfulness Part II
At this morning session we will cover questions and answers about Part II of the online course: Mindfulness: An Introduction

May 8, 2020 Afternoon Session

Intro to Ecotherapy
At this afternoon session we will cover questions and answers about the online course: Ecotherapy: An Introduction


Final thoughts, Q & A
At this final afternoon session we will answer any questions about the entire program. Certificates of Completion will be distributed at the end of this session.

There are three fellowships available for this retreat. Fellowships include full tuition for the retreat and the online components in exchange for assisting with the retreat. Assisting duties include set-up and tear-down for sessions, distributing materials, and help with cleaning or other light duties as assigned. Fellowships DO NOT include hotel accommodations, meals, or any other amenities.

NOTE: Prior to receiving your Certificate of Completion, you must have completed the online portions of the training. Completion of the online portions is subject to verification. If you have not completed the online portions, a Certificate of Completion cannot be issued until the online portion is completed.

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FREE Continuing Education – 2 hours

The Mindful Ecotherapy Center is currently working towards status as an Approved Continuing Education Provider (ACEP) with the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC). As a part of this process, I’m offering a free course for mental health professionals.
Two free continuing education hours in Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention are now available for mental health professionals! I created this course as part of the requirements for being an Approved Continuing Education Provider with the National Board of Certified Counselors.
To take this free course, you first have to register for an account. Go to the page linked below, enter a username, password, and email address, and create your account.
Once you’re registered, go to the link below and click the “Take this course” button to sign up for the course. After the course there’s a brief (five question) evaluation followed by a 20-question final exam. You’ll have 3 attempts to score 80% or higher on the final. Once you achieve 80% or higher, a certificate in pdf format will appear on the page under “PRINT YOUR CERTIFICATE.” This is proof of completion of the course for your continuing education requirements.
If you have any problems or questions, please contact me.
And thanks for helping me get ACEP status with the NBCC!
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Upgrade Completed – Courses Back Online!

In January of this year we added a new Learning Management System in an effort to make access to our courses easier. Unfortunately, we chose LearnPress, a very buggy LMS with little or no support. As a result of this poor choice, many students were reporting having difficulty accessing course materials and/or getting certificates printed.
We have now updated to LearnDash, one of the top LMS products on the market today. As a result, course materials were temporarily taken offline. We are starting to add them as we update the system. The first update is to theMindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Facilitator Certification Course. If you had previously enrolled in this course, you should now have access to it without having to purchase it again. PLEASE DO NOT RE-PURCHASE THE COURSE IF FOR SOME REASON YOU DO NOT HAVE ACCESS!
If you were previously enrolled in the course and are having difficulty logging in, please click here to contact the Mindful Ecotherapy Center with your username and email address you used to register for the course and you will be added manually to the course’s enrollment.
If you were enrolled in another course, you should be automatically added to that course’s enrollment once we get all courses updated.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!
Thanks for your patience during the upgrade, and we apologize for any inconvenience. As always, if you have any tips or suggestions for how we may improve the site in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact me!
Charlton Hall, MMFT, LMFT/S, RPT-S, CHt

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Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions govern the way in which we supply products to you, including any courses created by the Mindful Ecotherapy Center, its partners, or its representatives. Please read these terms carefully before you submit your order to us. These terms tell you who we are, how we will provide products to you, how you and we may change or end the contract, what to do if there is a problem and other important information. All rights not expressly granted in these terms are hereby reserved.You agree to review this agreement periodically to ensure that you are aware of any amendments to this agreement, which may be made at any time.

We are the Mindful Ecotherapy Center, a company registered in Cleveland, South Carolina. You may contact us at or by writing to us at:
Mindful Ecotherapy Center
PO Box 102
Cleveland SC 29635


In consideration of your payment, we hereby grant you a license to use the purchased eLearning courses (“the Products”). This license is limited, revocable, non-exclusive, non-sublicensable and non-transferable, and is subject to the rights and obligations granted under these Terms. This license is personal to you and cannot be shared or exchanged with others.


We develop, distribute and maintain the Products and will also provide you with log in details. We will also manage your access to the Products and provide support to you, where necessary. You shall not copy, modify, transmit, distribute or in any way exploit the Products or any other copyrighted materials provided other than for your individual training. Any other purpose is expressly prohibited under these terms. You shall also not permit anyone else to copy, use, modify, transmit, distribute or in any way exploit the Products or any other copyrighted materials. We provide the materials ‘as is’ and without any warranties, whether express or implied, except those that cannot be excluded under statute. We also do not warrant that the materials will be error free, including technical inaccuracies.


The starting date of your access to the Products is deemed to be the date that you first have access. We will attempt to contact you where your access period has ended. Where this is the case, we cannot guarantee that certification or completion (as appropriate) will be possible. As such, it is your responsibility to ensure that you complete the content within the allocated time period. If you do not think this will be possible, then extensions of time are available for purchase at an additional cost. We will take all commercially reasonable steps to provide you with uninterrupted access to the Products. However, your access may be restricted from time to time for reasons beyond our control. Such reasons include force majeure events, power outages and actions from computer hackers and others acting outside the law. Your access may also be interrupted due to software issues, server downtime, increased Internet traffic, programming errors, regular maintenance and other related reasons. Where this is the case, we will take commercially reasonable steps to restore your full access within a reasonable period of time. ‘Commercially reasonable’ in these terms shall mean reasonable efforts taken in good faith, without an unduly burdensome use or expenditure of time, resources, personnel or money. Our joint aim is to provide courses and materials of the highest quality. As such, improvements or changes to the Products or any other materials may occur at any time without prior notification in order to ensure that they are up to date and accurate. Where your access to the Products is restricted for any of the above reasons, we may provide you with a free extension of time at our sole discretion.

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a) A failure to make any payment due to us; or
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In these circumstances, we will inform you in writing with seven (7) days’ notice that your access to the Products will be restricted.


This is a summary of your key legal rights. If you are based outside the United States, we recommend you review your local statutory rights. Under the laws of the United States, the Products must be as described, fit for purpose and of a satisfactory quality. If the Products are faulty, then you are entitled to ask for a repair or a replacement and if the fault cannot be fixed, or it has not been fixed within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience, then you can get some or all of your money refunded. If you can show that the fault has damaged your device and that we have not used reasonable care and skill, then you may be entitled to compensation.


Where you have purchased exam vouchers in addition to the Products, these vouchers will be subject to the terms and conditions of the relevant exam provider. Exam vouchers are non-refundable once they have been used for booking an exam.


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You need our consent to transfer your rights under these terms to someone else. We may not agree to this as these terms grant a licence for your benefit only. Nobody else has any rights under these terms – they are between you and us. No other person shall have any rights to enforce any of its terms. If a court finds part of these terms illegal, then rest will continue in force. Even if we delay in enforcing this contract, we can still enforce it later. If we do not insist immediately that you do anything you are required to do under these terms, or if we delay in taking steps against you in respect of your breaking this contract, that will not mean that you do not have to do those things and it will not prevent us taking steps against you at a later date.


These terms are governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Greenville, South Carolina and the United States and you can bring legal proceedings in the United States courts in Greenville County, South Carolina.

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New and Improved Courses Coming in 2019!

Starting in early 2019 we will be adding functionality to our online course modules. This new functionality will allow certificates of completion to be automatically generated when you complete a course. Certificates will be available from each course page as courses are completed.

The new courseware will offer a multitude of interactive formats, including video and audio presentations, interactive quizzes, images and automatic course completion and certificate generation.

Also, in partnership with the Fernview Center for Wellbeing in Anderson, South Carolina, I will be offering annual certification training in Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy. The first of these week-long intensives is being scheduled now. Look for an announcement about scheduling for these live seminars sometime in March of 2019.

With the increased functionality of the website and the enhanced, interactive features we will be offering for each course, we will unfortunately have to increase the costs on some courses. If you’ve been interested in any of our course offerings, now is the time to take advantage of our online offerings before the price increases in 2019!

For more information on any of our courses, complete the contact form below.

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MBE Program Coming this Spring

Click here for an overview of the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy(MBE) Program

I’m pleased to announce that I have partnered with the Stress Management Center at the Fernview Center for Wellbeing in Anderson, South Carolina to present the Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy program. This 12-week program will begin in the spring of 2019.

I will also be offering therapy appointment services for individuals, families, and couples at the Stress Management Center starting in the winter of 2018. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment, please contact Judith Herring at the Fernview Center for Wellbeing.

For more information on what Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy is and how it works, see the information below.

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE)

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) is a blending of Mindfulness and Ecopsychology. MBE uses nature to facilitate mindful awareness. MBE is used as a framework for helping individuals and families to find deeper connections in their own lives, and to give more meaning and enjoyment to the activities of daily living.

Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy (MBE) is a 12-week nature-based program. Each session meets outdoors for about 90 minutes and is guided by a trained MBE facilitator. The Mindfulness-Based Ecotherapy Workbook was designed to accompany the 12-week program. A facilitator manual is also available for mental health professionals interested in training in the program.

For more information, please complete the contact form below.

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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.


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

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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.


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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.”