Sue GoodfellowCounselling & Psychotherapy

Understanding Ourselves through the Natural World

Working with Nature

As many of you will be aware, being in nature has many benefits. Walking in the countryside can make us feel alive. Being on a wet, windy beach gets us in touch with the elements, heightens our senses. Simply sitting in a garden or park, a wooded area or being up in the mountains can raise our spirits. At other times, these experiences might evoke unexpected feelings such as grief and sadness.

So what is it that nature is telling us?

Ecopsychotherapy takes the perspective that we are an embodiment of nature, an inherent part of the natural world and that it is through seeing ourselves as different from this that can create a sense of disconnect and imbalance within us, leading to anxiety, low self esteem and depression.

This has been particularly apparent and emphasised following the emergence of Covid and the lockdowns that ensued. Our nervous systems have found it challenging to manage the physical separation from friends, family and work colleagues. Our natural tendency to socialise and be with others, our sense of freedom have been restricted on many levels, not to the mention the high levels of fear created around catching the virus, all of which resulting in an increased sense of internal disconnect and heightened stress. For those who have lost loved ones there will be a deeply painful sense of sudden, acute separation and traumatic loss.

Many have found walking outside in natural areas a real benefit at this time, enjoying being outside and discovering the connection that we have with the trees, the plants and the elements. Working with the natural environment in this way through deepening our connections can support us in understanding how and why we think and feel the way we do about ourselves as human beings. It can explain why we develop and grow into the person that we are, away from our true selves into a conditioned self that over time has internalised family, societal and cultural values which take us off our true path and into feelings of low self- worth and disconnect.

Through seeing how nature operates as a cyclical and seasonal, inclusive and diverse system of connectivity, we can start to embrace this natural way of being into our daily lives as both a teacher and guide for a healthier paced and more balanced way of living. It supports our understanding of why we take on limiting beliefs about ourselves, how these can be realised and changed over time to become more aligned with the natural world as part of the immense web of life.

Nature will always support us if we allow and if we let the process of life flow through us in this way, it can create feelings of deep connection and calm through both regulating our nervous systems and fostering a deeper sense of belonging.

The outdoor sessions are therefore a more immersive and experiential walking-talking (or just sitting!) therapy through which we can come to better understand our inherent, embodied connection with nature. Through seeing how nature exists as an organised, empathic and highly attuned living system, we can apply these findings to our internal world and make healthy changes supported by a broader picture of life.

Equine Assisted Coaching

I am a recently qualified Equine Assisted Facilitator who has completed 250 hours of training at the HEART Centre, a holistic horse and pony centre based in Ockham, Surrey.

As a therapeutic coaching model, EAC works in relationship with the horses to reveal our internal energetic states - our thoughts, feelings and emotions - which then help to identify the beliefs we hold about ourselves and in turn what is stopping us from being who we are and doing what we want to do in life; what gets in the way or blocks us. In understanding what is stopping us from feeling good enough or worthy for example, the horses support clients in understanding how to change these beliefs and apply this learning to everyday life situations. The work is powerful, profoundly relational and particularly helpful in areas where there is low confidence and unhealthy boundary setting.

Through understanding how to connect and relate to the horses, they show us what is required to realign our beliefs and live a more authentic life from a place of self trust and belief. They are creatures who create harmony and peace within their herd environment and help us to foster this within ourselves and our relationships.

I am currently taking on clients for 6 sessions of personal development work. As a newly qualified facilitator, I am offering 3 of these sessions free of charge with a reduced price of £150 for the remaining 3.

For more information about the HEART Centre, go to https://www.the

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