NatureConnect Counselling, Psychotherapy and Supervision in Marsden near Huddersfield
and Oldham with Neil Jordan

Psychotherapy and Supervision in the outdoors. riverpem250

Working in the outdoors

How do we continue to live in this fast changing world where climate change has become the norm, where vast areas of the planet are becoming uninhabitable, where wildlife is being decimated? How does life on this planet survive never mind thrive? And when I speak of life I mean all life, all species both animate and inanimate, human and other-than-human. If other aspects of our ecosystems don't survive we humans won't survive either. We can't survive without plants, fruit, bees or worms. In reality we are as closely bound to the natural world as are all these species.

So, when I work in the outdoors my thoughts are not only on the person I'm working with but also the natural world that we find ourselves in. How can we work together to the benefit of all. Is it possible for human healing to occur and at the same time forget about the rest of life on earth? I don't think so. Healing must take place at all levels, including the part of us that is wild, that is nature. So, in psychotherapy or supervision I'm interested in supporting the connection within the human, between the human and human, and between the human and the natural world. When we connect with the part of ourselves that is nature we want to support all life as we feel the intrinsic connection between ourselves and all that exists.

So, when working outdoors I invite you to re-adjust to the ultimate context within which we all live, that is, the natural world. We are all children of nature and every breath we take is a reminder of this deepest of connections. In my daily life including my work as a supervisor and psychotherapist I typically feel more alive and present in the outdoors as this is where I feel most at home. Nature is part of who I am and I am part of nature

In outdoor therapy and supervision I support you in focusing on your relationship with the natural world as well as with yourself – through your breathing, movement, or bodily gestures or through what you might be drawn to whilst in the outdoors. So, we explore both how the natural world can be a source of support to you and how you can be a source of support to the natural world of which we are part.

As John Muir said:

"I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in"

So, by going out I am inviting you to go in, to go in to yourself, however that may be.

Working in the outdoors provides an ideal opportunity to explore how you feel about climate change and how you feel about the human impact on life on earth. I will help you explore the therapeutic needs that emerge when you hold the reality of climate crisis in your awareness. As we have seen in recent times our young people are directly expressing their anxiety and fear for their future and the future of our planet, and if we needed concrete evidence of how precarious life on the earth is, we need look no further than the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread death and illness it has caused. Part of connecting with nature is connecting with death. The Pagans believed we are in a constant cycle of birth, growth, death, decay and re-birth. So, in order to face life we also have to face death, and not only our own inevitable death but maybe even the death of our species and many other species on the planet. This is the reality that we are facing in these turbulent times.

I work outdoors in Marsden where there is the option of spending time in nearby woodland, moorland and open fields. The location is accessible for those who travel by public transport as well as those who come by car.

I work with clients for an hour, or for longer by negotiation. The therapy can take the form of simply walking and talking or it may be about slowing down and focusing in on your body and your inner process to be with your moment to moment emotional experience. There is potential for a great deal of flexibility, governed principally by the preference of the individual.

All the traditional boundaries for effective and safe psychotherapy and supervision still apply, including a mutually agreed focus for our work and agreements regarding confidentiality. We will agree how to deal with occasionally encountering other people when we are outdoors.

You don’t need to be physically fit to work outdoors as the focus is on your relationship with the earth – it is not about fitness, but it is about slowing down enough to be in relationship with both yourself and the earth around and seeing how this deeper connection facilitates personal and interpersonal change or, in terms of supervision, how the natural world helps sustain you in your work. It is also about exploring what we give back to the natural world in this reciprocal process of life.

“Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it's beauty”
― Albert Einstein

Psychotherapy and Supervision in the outdoors. fieldandflower250

My interest in the outdoors

I have always felt deeply connected to the outdoors having been brought up on a farm in rural Ireland. I have fostered this connection in recent years and, as a result, I now feel much more alive and connected into the world when I am outside.

Having trained as a counsellor and psychotherapist I worked indoors for many years with my clients but slowly became aware that I wanted to bring my own increasing connection with nature into the work both with clients and supervisees. Having personally experienced how my deepening connection with the natural world aids my own healing and my work as a psychotherapist I now offer outdoor psychotherapy and supervision as an option to clients.

I also run a variety of outdoor workshops. The focus in these events, which normally run for one or two days over a weekend, is developing our connection with the natural world and deepening our relationship with ourselves through that connection.

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