The beginning of May saw our first ever Wild Therapy ecopsycology training. We we’re joined by Emma Palmer and Justin Roughly, who guided the group through a week of exploratory sessions together. Emma writes below about the experience, including some of the challenges that they faced as a group of learners with divergent therapeutic backgrounds and interests, and how this learning will inform future Wild Therapy trainings.
For the first time this spring ‘Wild Therapy’ came to Ecodharma. I love Wild Therapy and I love Ecodharma – the place and community – so I was very glad to be bringing the two together. Wild therapy has its roots in the more radical origins and practices of counselling and psychotherapy, has emerged in response to the increasing ‘taming’ of beings (including therapists), and recognises the urgent need for us to realise our connection with the so-called ‘natural world’. A main intention of Wild Therapy is to bring therapy into the wild and wildness into therapy, so the week saw 14 of us moving between solo work, pair work and whole group work as we socially dreamed together, meditated together, explored different aspects of Wild therapy, and co-created community. And the learning goes on, as we digest and return home…
On the Wild therapy website it says that this way of working ‘seeks to rebalance therapy – and in the long run, human culture – with a good dollop of wildness, spontaneity, boundlessness and passion’. I certainly think that we managed at least some of this last week and I feel much gratitude to the 12 participants for bringing themselves so heart-fully, gut-fully and spirit-fully to the course and for forming strong bonds. For me the diversity of the group was both a strength and weakness. There was a tension between some wanting more content and some wanting more whole-group process and in future I would be drawn to offering this course solely to counsellors and psychotherapists, purely because in narrowing the focus of course participants, we may be able to go deeper. Having said that, I think it was the diversity of this particular course that made it wild – food for thought! Ecodharma already offers an amazing range of courses for people practising nature connection, whilst this is the first course for therapists, so that may be another reason for narrowing the focus slightly.
I’m used to holding Wild therapy courses in Derbyshire, Lancashire and Somerset, so it was amazing to explore this work in a landscape which is much wilder still, in the midst of the richness of the other than human and more than human life there. A big thank you to everyone at Ecodharma who make these life-changing events possible. And last and definitely not least, all the beings in la Serra de Carreu: the vultures, eagles, cuckoos, chuffs, deer, goats, the cowslips, tiny daffodils, and wild hellebores, and all the other beings. I bow deeply.