We Find Out More About Wellbeing In Nature, An Earth-Centred Therapy Form

Photos: Elouise Oldfield
Interview: Beth Green
Friday 25 August 2023
reading time: min, words

Wellbeing in Nature is an Earth-centred therapy form that connects individuals to nature. Started by Elouise Oldfield in collaboration with Kirsty Dexter of Urban Bushcraft, it utilises the freedom of the outdoors, to provide an alternative, calming environment that is worlds apart from the desolate, clinical room many of us are used to. 

Main Image (14)

Could you explain how Wellbeing in Nature began?
The birth of it came from a desire to reconnect modern society back to nature, when many of us feel a lot of detachment from it. I’ve always been very passionate about nature; growing up, I escaped to a river as a means to process my emotions, it was my sanctuary. Recently, there’s been a focus within mental health on how to better our wellbeing in a more empowering and individualised way. I’ve noticed a shift emerge from the medicalised route of treatment to therapeutic environments, and how they can impact the effectiveness. 

I offer a range of ecotherapy services with a focus of sustainable wellbeing, in both urban and rural spaces. They can range from one-to-one sessions, workshops, events, both online or in-person, as well as collaborations with other local organisations. They are open to everyone, regardless of demographics, gender, disability or age.

What is ecotherapy?
Eco-psychology originates back to the 1960s, when research into the benefits of nature began. However, recently terms such as ‘green therapy,’ ‘nature therapy,’ or ecotherapy are becoming more recognised. It looks into how we can use this therapeutic resource in a modern world. Visiting a GP about your mental health may result in a prescription of ‘green intervention,’ such as going for a daily walk. When you’re in nature, not only does it make you feel calmer, physiologically you will also breathe slower, so you’ll be taking in a lot more fresh, pure oxygen. Your attention ability will also be restored from as little as spending twenty minutes in nature, which betters your focus and therefore your work.

Truth be told, nature therapy is age-old. Our ancestors connected with nature physically and mentally. Wellbeing in Nature hones into our often detached biological roots, to bring activities, counselling and therapy to an outdoor setting. Humans are innately built to be in nature, our bodies react to the environment we’re in. That’s why when you step into a beautiful wood, you release a breath of relief, and feel more present, it’s what our body craves. It’s especially important when we consider the state of our environment, and how we are treating our planet. This is why it works so well with bushcraft, which is the combination of ancient skills and survival techniques. 

Humans are innately built to be in nature, our bodies react to the environment we’re in

Woodland Wellbeing

What happens during your Woodland Wellbeing events?
It’s a holistic day retreat, with an aim to promote self-confidence, mental wellbeing and nature connectedness. It uses the tools of ecotherapy and ancient bushcraft techniques, to provide a tailored, unique experience. It pulls them together to hit loads of marks - looking after your mental health, improving breathwork, boosting creativity and learning new skills and survival techniques. 

We include a forest bathing exercise to start, which practises grounding through the senses with a guided meditation experience. It’s designed to absorb you into the woods, and connect you to your surroundings. Then there is fire lighting skills, using the natural resources available, to give you the skills to build and light a fire. There’s also a reflection practice around the fire afterwards, where we have an open talk about whatever comes to mind. There’s this lovely thing about being in nature that gives people the space to talk about the whole world, and everything else. We then incorporate some nature art therapy, again opening your senses, using what you can find, whether that be leaves, bark or stones. It further connects you, both by the beauty of the act itself and the beauty of the art created. There’s also the opportunity to bring a picnic, should you want, and sit and relax. It’s a full blown day.

How does it tie in with bushcraft?
The collaboration with Kirsty from Urban Bushcraft is the reason why I love the event so much. Their overarching focus of empowerment is key, alongside their unique concept of bringing survival techniques and skills into a city environment. Their work helps people overcome initial fears of feeling unfamiliar or of potential danger, especially those that have always lived in the city, they may feel a sense of unease in nature.

Who can come along?
The great thing about this partnership is that we have both worked with a multitude of different age groups and levels of experience. Kirsty has delivered bushcraft sessions to children, including those with additional needs such as Autism, as well as birthday parties, outdoor practitioners and forest school leaders. At the same time, my own experiences in mental health support work meant that I encountered people from a variety of backgrounds and ages. 

It was very important to me that no matter if you’re a complete newbie to the outdoors, or well-seasoned, the event will suit you. This is why I have chosen to keep the group capacity on the smaller size. It ensures we can give everyone individualised support, that doesn’t feel too overwhelming. We will run the session even if it’s chucking it down, and only one person attends, because they will still get something out of it.

What sets Wellbeing in Nature apart?
The most important aspect I focus on is creating sustainable well-being. Unlike typical entrance therapies that you may get offered, should you meet a certain criteria, it gives you around six to eight sessions. Once that’s finished, often you are sent on your way, expected to navigate your thoughts alone. 

When people enter a therapeutic space with me, it goes further than providing the tools and understanding. I also concentrate on self awareness and empowerment, so that when they choose to leave, they don’t feel as though they need to keep coming back, unless they want to. I do offer a range of community support, events and working one-to-one should they wish. However, the aim is always to ensure that when you leave, you will have enough knowledge to manage your life outside of this. The biggest benefit of ecotherapy is that it is creating this sanctuary in nature that you can go to, whether you’re in an urban or rural setting, green spaces are never far.


We have a favour to ask

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion

Please note, we migrated all recently used accounts to the new site, but you will need to request a password reset

Sign in using

Or using your

Forgot password?

Register an account

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.

Forgotten your password?

Reset your password?

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.