The therapeutic value of experiencing spirituality in nature

Lia Naor, Ofra Mayseless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spirituality, which is associated with the human motivation and potential to experience connection with the sacred and divine, is a common aspect of nature experience and has been the subject of many studies. But the profound benevolent effect of experiencing spirituality in nature in therapeutic contexts has yet to be empirically demonstrated. This article focuses on the therapeutic effect of experiencing spirituality in nature from the perspective of nature-based therapists. Spirituality emerged as a central theme in a larger study designed to develop a model of nature-based therapy (NBT), which is currently lacking in the field. Grounded theory methodology was applied, and data included in-depth interviews with 26 experienced nature-based therapists worldwide and field observations of 6 NBT workshops. Within the NBT context, spirituality emerged as involving an actual and tangible experience of the spiritual in physical form-nature as an embodiment of spirituality. The findings link this form of spiritual experience to significant therapeutic effects, including the experience of nature's immensity, which contributes to an expansive perspective; experiencing interconnectedness, which elicits a sense of belonging to the vast web of life; and the reflection of internal nature and truth by external nature as an accepting setting, which contributes to the discovery of an authentic self. These results are discussed in consideration of current perspectives on the psychology of spirituality, which further our understanding of the therapeutic effects of spirituality that may be evoked and implemented through nature. The practical and clinical implementations of spiritual connection through nature in therapeutic frameworks are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)114-133
Number of pages20
JournalSpirituality in Clinical Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Nature
  • Nature-based therapy
  • Self-discovery
  • Spirituality
  • Spirituality in psychotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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