Book Review: Ecotherapy in Practice: A Buddhist model

I’ve been looking for a book to help me understand more about Ecotherapy, and then this came along. I have it in my bag with me all the time now; it’s become quite a precious object which I find quite a curious thing. It’s wonderful when you feel that way about a book isn’t it?

In my searches I hadn’t found that many books on the topic, but I understand that as an area, Ecotherapy is somewhat “embryonic” (Brazier, p50) and so this book is very much needed and does not disappoint.

Brazier discusses ecotherapy using theoretical constructs within Buddhist Psychology and the ‘other-centred approach’ (Brazier, 2009). The methodological model used for outdoor work is the ‘Ten-directions model’ which is made up of five ‘fields’ each with two elements: –

1.Therapeutic container: therapist’s presence and the working environment itself
2.Theoretical base: object-related identity and therapeutic triangle
3.Personal process: conditioned views, and encounter.
4.Collective and cultural frames: myth, ritual and creativity
5.Global context and wider horizons: vibrancy and embedded living.

The ‘other-centred approach’ that Brazier takes in the book seemed to me to be something that could be adapted to many other therapies. One of the aspects through which this was evident was in the discussion on Mindfulness. Being mindful is so integral to the experience of walking in nature as we must be alert and attentive to where we are walking and what is around us.  This is an area which is rich with possibilities for our outdoor work with clients.  A key part of therapeutic work lies within the perceptions that people identify and link themselves with (Brazier, 2018, p52) and these become the interface between the inner and outer world. Being outdoors and encountering the unpredictability and uncontrollability of nature provides an arena through which to notice and work with these perceptions mindfully.

Brazier makes a good point about how as children we asked questions about our encounters; we were curious. However, as we become adults these questions stop being asked and become assumptions. Bringing our work outside also allows us to slow our automatic biases and begin to look again with curiosity.

I’m aware that my review is based on the things that are striking a chord with me at this point in my journey. I’m sure there is much more to be understood and interpreted in this book. I would encourage you to seek it out if you too have a yearning to bring nature and the outdoors into your psychotherapeutic work somehow.  This book will be in my rucksack for a while longer I think……

Ecotherapy in Practice: A Buddhist model. Brazier, C. (2018). London: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-415-78596-9


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