What is Integrative Forest Therapy?

The evolution and future of green mental health care

What is Integrative Forest Therapy?

Integrative Forest Therapy as defined by Nádúr is an evidence informed, cost-effective, public health approach. The practice crosses the domains of integrative medicine, forestry, psychology, ecophilosophy, neurophysiology, and the wisdom of ancient traditions. It is integrative as it considers the mind, body, and spirit; the social, cultural, and natural environment of each individual; and their mood, behaviour, and cognition. It is underpinned by the principles of Shinrin-Yoku and forest medicine.

Integrative Forest Therapy is informed by the scientific evidence that aspects of the forest environment – such as rich biodiversity, phytoncides, microbes in the soil, negative ions, fractal patterns in nature, a natural soundscape, and unpolluted air – can enhance health and wellbeing. It takes a whole person approach and recognises the intrinsic healing capacity within each individual. It seeks to restore the dynamic balance of a living system by immersive meaningful nature experiences.

Integrative Forest Therapy is a nature-based intervention that targets specific mental health and physical health difficulties and considers the particular needs of individuals experiencing them. It focuses on redressing their impact by improving mental and physical health and social wellbeing; helping to reduce stress and alleviate distress. In this way, it can act as an adjunct to standard treatment and rehabilitation for specific illnesses.

Integrative Forest Therapy is grounded in mindfulness, nature connection, and sensory awareness practices. Participants are supported to immerse their senses in nature, slow down, and reconnect with themselves, each other, and their natural environment. It is adapted to each country’s culture, geography, and climate. The clinical and sociodemographic characteristics of the population receiving Integrative Forest Therapy are also considered.

What is an Integrative Forest Therapy Practitioner?

An Integrative Forest Therapy Practitioner works in partnership with the forest to enhance and strengthen the nature connection of individuals and groups.

These individuals have a strong nature connection themselves, demonstrate ecoliteracy (the ability to comprehend natural systems), and understand forest ecology (interactions between organisms and the environment).

While a Forest Bathing Guide works on the levels of health promotion and disease prevention, Integrative Forest Therapy Practitioners work in the areas of tertiary disease prevention (i.e. enhancing quality of life as disease or illness progresses), treatment (i.e. addressing mental and physical health conditions), and rehabilitation and recovery (from occupational burnout, mental illness, and physical illness). 

 

Integrative Forest Therapy Practitioners work in partnership with healthcare professionals and advocate for the integration of Forest Therapy into the health systems. Integrative Forest Therapy Practitioners should have outdoor first aid training and mental health first aid training (if they do not have a mental health background).

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Address

Nádúr
Centre for Integrative Forest Therapy
Ground Floor
71 Lower Baggot Street
Dublin
D02 P593
Ireland