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Therapy With a Dose of Nature

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Beginning this fall, Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling will offer a new certificate program in ecopsychology. This growing field explores the relationships between mental health, well-being, and the natural environment as well as the ways in which counselors can contribute to conservation and sustainability.

The 10-credit course sequence—designed for students pursuing a master’s degree in counseling psychology—draws on a robust body of scientific research. Topics for exploration include the health benefits of time spent in green spaces; the effectiveness of ecotherapy and wilderness therapy; and the important linkages between emotions and beliefs about environmental issues, identity, and propensity toward conservation behavior.

“We do not believe that every counselor should retool his or her practice to become an ecocounselor,” says Thomas Doherty, instructor in counseling psychology and cocoordinator of the certificate program. “However, we do believe that a cadre of well-informed and empowered counselors is needed to effectively engage the pressing social and environmental issues of our time.”

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