Applied Ecopsychology

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Applied Ecopsychology (also known as Organic Psychology) explores the intimate relationship between humans and nature. It is based on The Webstring Model of Natural Attraction Ecology, the theory of Applied Ecopsychology pioneered by Michael J. Cohen Ph.D. through over 50 years of phenomenological research with people and natural systems.

In this model, the human sensory system is understood to be an integral part of the planetary ecosystem. It describes natural attraction as the primary agent in the self-organizing, self-healing and creative processes of the interdependent web of life. It explores natural attraction as the human experience of nature’s intelligence at play.

The rampant emotional and social distress, alienation, violence and disease suffered by members of modern industrial cultures are seen as symptoms of the disconnection of our 53 natural senses from the intelligent, dynamic sensory interplay in the web of life. This disconnection is caused by our shift to an almost exclusively indoor lifestyle and our use of technologies which separate us from direct, personal involvement in the natural community.

The continuous, intelligent sensory interplay enjoyed by all members of the natural system is responsible for balance and harmony, and sensory intelligence produces sensible behavior in community members. As we have become insulated from this flow of communication, we suffer from sensory deprivation which results in various forms of senseless behavior toward ourselves, toward others, and toward the environment.

As we interact increasingly with machines rather than living organisms and natural communities (as we did in or indigenous beginnings), our senses are further distorted and our choices become flawed in predictable ways. Personal and environmental destruction ensues as cause and effect are obscured by technology, industrial production, and our dulled and atrophied senses. As generations grow up increasingly disconnected from nature, we become more alienated from nature, and more desensitized to the harm we inflict on the natural community and planetary ecosystems.

We become more conditioned to (and addicted to) a highly controlled sensory environment, and feel increasingly uncomfortable with nature’s constantly shifting, uncontrollable elements. At the same time, we crave the restful, invigorating, refreshing and beautiful wonders of nature and feel restored, comforted and inspired when we follow our attractions to beautiful natural settings and the plants and animals who fascinate and delight us.

Dr. Cohen developed a restorative methodology called The Natural Systems Thinking Process that reconnects us with the beauty, joy, peace, and sensibility of nature. This process of sensory restoration and revitalization happens through direct interactions with nature. It involves a series of steps that reduce stress and increase feelings of well-being and clarity of purpose. Over time, practitioners consistently report increased well-being and resolution of stress-related disturbances as well as more peaceful, harmonious, sensible and balanced relationships with others and with nature.

The method is easily learned and easily taught, and can be used with people of all ages and occupations. Practitioners use it for personal growth and well-being and professionals apply it in education, coaching, counseling, and healing work. It can be creatively adapted to a wide variety of applications.

Additional information: Project NatureConnect

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