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Nature Therapy for Mental Health & Well-being 🌿

When was the last time you explored your natural environment? Played in nature?

Pictured here is ME! Occupational Therapist, Katie Scoffield, out for a walk with my weekly therapeutic nature walking group.

During today’s walk, we talked about resilience, what it means to us, how we have been resilient in the past, and how we can continue to be resilient going forward, in the face of adversity. A great, productive discussion was had and there was the added benefit of conversing amongst the trees, exchanging our exhaled carbon dioxide for their oxygen.

Before becoming an Occupational Therapist (OT), I worked as an Educational assistant for children with autism, and prior to that, as an exercise therapist teaching rehabilitation exercises. While I loved these positions, and worked with many amazing clients and co-workers, it always felt like there was more for me to learn, more growth to be had. So, I began my quest for greater knowledge and understanding as I entered into the MScOT program at the University of Alberta in my hometown, Edmonton.

While at school, I was involved in the creation of a room where students and staff alike could go to be calm. Naturally, we titled it, ‘The Calm Room’. Creating this room collaboratively with a group of my peers who were exceptionally innovative, bright, and determined was hands down one of the best parts of my masters degree, one which I frequently reflect on as I go about my OT practice.

From selecting a name for the room that accurately describes it’s purpose, to shopping for elements to add to the room that exuded ~calm~, to coordinating events, running social media pages, and starting up ‘Conversation Circles’, it was an experience I won’t ever forget.

Now, after completing all my coursework, practicing, and final research project, entering the workforce, passing the national OT certification exam, and becoming a registered occupational Therapist, I have been searching for ways to incorporate these learnings and experiences into my day to day practice. To expand the essence of the calm room into the greater Edmonton, province, country, and world.

And that’s when, I discovered PaRx! Park Prescriptions, an initiative that enables healthcare professionals to become, ‘nature prescribers’- professionals that are passionate about nature, educated on its benefits, and motivated to help others re-discover nature!

When I first started out on this journey, I had NO idea where it would take me, but after reaching the PaRx research, I knew it was the right path for me to follow. From there, or perhaps slightly before, I came up with my business name: gOT Direction Occupational Therapy, a name that embodies the work I do with clients, which is to support them in finding their direction in life, or in getting back on track with their life if they’ve wandered.

Because sometime in life, things happen! People may leave us, the seasons change, and sometimes, it feels like we’re starting a new, even backtracking at times, or hitting rock bottom. One thing I know for certain though, we humans are resilient. We are capable of persisting through storms that come our way, withstanding their winds and riding the waves. We are supported- by the earth below our feet, the waters that connect us to new lands, and the people we meet along the way. We are also guided by the spirits of our ancestors who walked this earth before us, and by a higher power that is our life force. Mother Nature. God. Buddha. Allah.

There is life in the woods, the waters, the airs, and the sparks of fire. Life that invigorates civilizations across the planet which we harness to ignite our own passions and purposes, that we can nurture, tend to, and propagate so that generations to come will be able to experience the world as we know it, or perhaps, a world that is even better!

So, why nature therapy? Well, first of all… it’s free! Spending time in nature also supports our physical, mental, cognitive and spiritual health, which I will discuss in more detail in another blog post, as well as leads to a greater appreciation of, and willingness to protect nature amongst humans.

Okay then, what is nature therapy? To me, nature therapist is anything you can think of that involves nature or natural elements. This may be spending time outside journaling, laying in a field cloud gazing, biking along trails, or ‘forest bathing’, but it can also be designing spaces (interior and exterior) that incorporate natural elements such as plants, wood, stone, flowers, and anything else that can be found in nature. Studies even show that images of nature, in the form of paintings, photos, and artwork benefit our mental health and well-being, and that’s not it! I know there are even MORE ways to incorporate nature into our day to day lives, and do so in a way that is therapeutic for both us and the planet!

So join me on this adventure as I learn what it means to work with nature to ensure our sustainable life on earth, and share my thoughts along the way! To receive my weekly newsletter, please visit the ‘contact us’ page, or fill out the online form with your contact information.

I am SO looking forward to having you along with me on this journey. Sending peace and love to all of you, your friends, and families near and far ✌🏼🌿

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