The physicist and 20th-century cultural icon, Albert Einstein, once said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” While his words may seem slightly esoteric, they actually have a scientific basis in the world of mental health recovery. In fact, his words embody the crux of nature experience therapy.
There is little doubt that teenagers today are spending significantly less time outside than they once did. This is nothing that they specifically did wrong. Rather, it seems almost as though it is something that has been done to them. The online social-media boom of the last twenty years or so has fundamentally changed the landscape of how adolescents interact with the world. Unfortunately, from the standpoint of mental health, this is not a positive change.
What Exactly Is Nature Experience Therapy?
Nature experience therapy is essentially what it sounds like: utilizing nature to help someone in their recovery. Perhaps the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health can expound upon nature experience therapy a little more succinctly in the following paragraph.
The Journal explains how “Relieving stress has emerged as an important issue to improve health and quality of life. Interest in nature-based therapy [including nature experience therapy] is increasing because having contact with nature can relieve stress with a positive psychophysiological effect.” The authors have come to this conclusion because “Many studies have reported the positive effect of natural environments.”
It has long been understood that nature can have healing effects. An example is how penicillin was first derived from penicillium mold found growing on a tree out in the woods. However, it is important to understand that nothing has to be ingested in nature experience therapy. Rather, it involves reconnecting with nature to reinvigorate the trifecta of mind, body, and soul.
Who Is Nature Experience Therapy For?
Regarding the question of which populations can best benefit from nature experience therapy, the answer is everyone. However, when it comes to the greatest need for exposure to nature, there is perhaps no better population than young people that are struggling with issues of mental health.
Young people today are often isolated and insulated in their self-made digital “cocoons.” It is this lack of nature exposure that makes this form of therapy so ideal for them. Not only will young people receive the benefits of being outdoors, but they will also have a chance to get away from online influences like social media sites that can lead to online process habits.
What Are the Benefits and Limitations of Nature Experience Therapy?
There are an array of benefits of nature experience therapy. Perhaps the best way to understand these benefits is by breaking them down into three categories: the mental, the emotional, and the physical.
Nature Experience Therapy Promotes Mental Wellness
Regarding mental wellness and nature exposure, it has been found that interacting with nature can actually increase and release the chemicals in the brain that help with mental functioning. For example, the neurotransmitters known as endorphins are often released during exercise, and they help create positive thoughts and promote positive thinking.
Nature Experience Therapy Improves Emotional Health
Regarding emotional health, there are almost too many benefits to list. However, the primary emotional benefit that we have found in our students is an increase in their ability to connect with something greater than themselves. They also begin to understand that they have the emotional capacity to create a more joyful life experience.
Nature Experience Therapy Enhances Physical Health
Perhaps the most obvious benefit is the physical benefit that can be achieved via interacting with nature. Being out in nature can strengthen the body, improve stamina, and allow individuals to better understand their own resilience and limitations. As with mental well-being, outdoor physical activity can also release dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. All of these neurotransmitters help the body repair itself physically and help with the mind-body connection.
Why Is Clearview Girls Academy Ideal for Those in Need of Nature?
It is undeniable that we here at Clearview Girls Academy have the unique opportunity to offer a nature experience therapy that is like no other. With our picturesque Montana mountain backdrop and sprawling surroundings, our students have an exceptional opportunity to commune with nature.
Whether it is going on a hike up Schweitzer Mountain (or snowboarding down it), or participating in one of the activities that we offer on nearby Lake Pend Oreille, our students truly learn to be one with the outdoors. We also want to note that we believe in creating a spiritual life here at Clearview Girls Academy. There is perhaps no better way to find spirituality than in an expansive Montana sunset.
Shakespeare once wrote that “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” That is what we believe here at Clearview Girls Academy as well. Our students are like our family here in Montana. Connecting with nature together helps us stay connected with each other.
When struggling with life-controlling issues and/or mental illness, it can be easy to lose focus on anything other than the problems right in front of us. This often leads to isolation, both internally and externally. For those experiencing external isolation, connecting and/or reconnecting with nature can be a great way to break away and experience life from a whole new positive perspective. This potential is all available via the treatment option of nature experience therapy. No place is that therapy more available than at Clearview Girls Academy, surrounded by the mountains and lakes of the great state of Montana. For more information on the healing effects that nature exposure can have, call Clearview Girls Academy at (888) 796-5484.