Group Therapy Plein Air:  Promoting Agile Resilience through Ecotherapy

Gail Schrimmer, Ph.D. Rutgers University

A complex dilemma emerged quickly in the spring of 2020: How can psychologists most ethically serve those clearly not benefiting from telehealth, while retaining the necessary quarantine recommendations outlined by the CDC?   In addition to its successes, a few cracks with full-scale telehealth have surfaced. Difficulties became apparent for those practitioners running groups, treating those already challenged with social anxieties or social skills disorders, and working with patients whose careers already contributed to daylong “Zoom fatigue.”  For those practitioners having access (and a preference) to an outdoor or “en plein air” experience, a solution was discovered. The ubiquity of biophilia and the optimistic research supporting nature-based ecotherapy formed a logical response to these telehealth concerns. Five groups were offered a combination of telehealth and ecotherapy sessions across an eight-month period.  Anecdotal observations support ecotherapy as a promising tool combating current and future pandemic concerns, in addition to be an antidote to a general disconnection with nature.

Gail’s Article can be downloaded at this address: