Therapeutic Factors in Nature-Based Therapies: Unraveling the Therapeutic Benefits of Integrating Nature in Psychotherapy

Lia Naor, Ofra Mayseless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The psychological benefits of human connection to nature have instigated the development of nature-based therapies (NBTs). This article focuses on the distinct therapeutic factors that characterize NBTs, from the perspective of practitioners from various NBTs, shedding light on the therapeutic value of psychotherapy conducted in the natural environment. To gain a general understanding of the distinct therapeutic factors, currently lacking in the broad field of NBTs, grounded theory methodology was applied. Data included in-depth interviews conducted with 26 nature-based practitioners from five countries, with various professional backgrounds, and six field observations of multiday nature-based group interventions. The findings of this study illuminate four distinct and common therapeutic factors enhanced by the natural environment and linked to the beneficial effect of NBTs: (a) the natural environment, delineated as a unique growth-oriented setting fostering health and wholeness; (b) challenge, described as a therapeutic means by which limiting perceptions of self may expand; (c) the role of nature, perceived as actively influencing the therapeutic process; and (d) expansiveness and interconnectedness experienced through nature eliciting a broad perspective on life and sense of belonging. New perspectives are revealed regarding the first two therapeutic factors that have been discussed previously in the literature, and two factors that are new to the broad field of NBTs are revealed providing us with new understandings regarding the therapeutic value of integrating nature in psychotherapy. All four factors are discussed in the context of examples of practice in the field and their practical implications for mental health professionals. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-590
Number of pages15
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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© 2021. American Psychological Association


  • Humans
  • Psychotherapy


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