Therapists Trade the Couch for the Great Outdoors

Historically, therapeutic practices have often been facilitated in controlled indoor settings, but an increasing number of therapists are taking sessions outdoors, claiming that nature and movement can help clients feel more open, find new perspectives, and express their feelings. Schools such as Lewis and Clark College and Prescott College now offer ecotherapy training, and practices such as "forest bathing" have been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Despite the risks of inclement weather and the lack of established licenses or best practices, the popularity of outdoor therapy is growing, especially among men and people under 40. Chase Brockett, a 36-year-old Portland resident, underwent hiking therapy for a year and a half, which he said connected him to nature and being human. Therapists also noted that outdoor therapy appears to reduce client resistance, and improves their own mental well-being and job satisfaction. Outdoor therapy is especially popular among younger individuals, who associate traditional therapy with prescription and resistance. Rachel Oppenheimer, a counselor, and her clinical supervisor, Heidi Schreiber-Pan, often use feathers and pine cones to symbolize the complex feelings that stem from mourning her grandmother. Thomas J. Doherty founded the certificate program in ecotherapy at Lewis and Clark College. Some psychiatrists, however, remain skeptical about the benefits of the practice, citing the formalized and traditional nature of indoor therapy.udes to a news article about outdoor therapy that the author wishes to summarize and rephrase in their own words, making it shorter.

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