I have decided to spend any spare moments between my various jobs to eke out a living immersing myself in techniques for reconnecting people to our innate place in the natural world's web.
For anyone interested in reading more about the 20-year academic study of Ecopsychology/Ecotherapy, I invite you to view this reading list from my alma mater, Lewis & Clark College, that has developed a graduate ecopsychology certificate program.
Or read the abundant life's work of Michael J. Cohen, from whom I am hoping to take an online course soon.
Here is why the non-medical caregiver experience inside hospitals is so relevant to being supported with ecotherapy:
1) Hospitals are sterile environments, which is positive in a surgical situation or life-threatening crisis, but leaves people living prolonged amounts of time inside these environments extremely disconnected from the natural world.
2) Many hospital windows face walls or parking lots rather than trees or vistas.
3) Any sense of natural biorhythms is disrupted by routine laboratory tests, 24-hour TV in patient rooms, beeping IV machines, fluorescent lighting, and heart monitors.
4) Many caregivers find themselves in situations where they must remain in isolation settings with completely internal air flow for infection precautions, without ability to come and go, or even desire to leave their loved one's side.
5) Cancer floors of any hospital are probably the most extreme situations for disconnection, because even bedside "get well" flowers or plants, any real offshoots from the natural world, might compromise immunity and are therefore not allowed.
This architectural article describes how Healing Gardens can be a huge aid to patient recovery when nature-based therapy is accepted in healthcare. My dream is that some day these types of healing parks will be fully integrated into hospitals-- a costly proposition on the one hand, but money saving if it shortens treatment and rehabilitation times and has lasting impact on the health of individuals.
Short of changing architecture on a wide scale, programs like Healing Outdoors can be a template for bringing reconnection with the natural world into hospital environments via caregivers closest to ill patients. Testimony from those who go through brief therapeutic sessions in nature suggests the impact can be life changing beyond the 15 minutes spent observing, listening, being.
It is my firm belief that when even the most nature deficient person is given tools to reconnect to their innate senses within the natural world, both emotional and physical regulation happens.