33: The Ecology of Change in Outdoor Therapy (ECO-Therapy) Model: A Theory to Explain How Nature-Based Pediatric Therapy May Change Lives

Therapy in the Great Outdoors

02-10-2023 • 33 min

In this episode, I share the findings from my PhD research and introduce the Ecology of Change in Outdoor Therapy (ECO-Therapy) Model developed from my research. The ECO-Therapy Model is a grounded theory to explain the mechanisms of change at work in the nature-based therapy process with children. The model was developed in the field of occupational therapy but may inform any pediatric therapist's work with children outdoors in nature. I'd love to hear your thoughts after you listen!

It may be helpful to SEE a picture of the model while you listen to this episode. I describe a bit of what it looks like but a picture says a thousand words. You can find the image pinned at the top of my Instagram profile @lauraparkfig and it is also the thumbnail for this episode. (You may have to zoom in to see the details...)

Here's what you'll learn:

00:01:27 The funny story about how I decided to share the model on this podcast episode.

00:02:42 Background of my research; what grounded theory is.

00:06:11 Why I named it The Ecology of Change in Outdoor Therapy (ECO-Therapy Model)

00:08:42 Names of the actors in the nature-based therapy process: Nature as the Continual Context and Blameless Co-Therapist; Child as the Motivated Adventurer; Therapist as the Attuned Analyzer and Modulator; Caregivers as the Contributing Beneficiaries

00:12:42 Six iterative phases in the nature-based therapy process: Longing for Freedom, Embarking on Adventure, Dancing with Nature, Claiming Self-Agency, Braving Real-Life Challenges, & Growing Adaptive Capacity.

00:29:09 The concept of hormesis and the hormetic effect of real-life challenges in nature

00:30:54 Real-life challenge compared to just-right challenge

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts after listening to this episode. There is a lot more I could share from my research (there were 3 research questions and lots of data other than what I shared here)...so if this is interesting to you, please let me know! You can share your thoughts inside the Therapy in the Great Outdoors Community here. I always want these episodes to support your work with children to help you grow a thriving nature-based practice! xoxo Laura

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