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 naturebased 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 ofpsychotherapy conducted in the natural environment. To gain a general understanding of the distincttherapeutic factors, currently lacking in the broad field of NBTs, grounded theory methodology wasapplied. Data included in-depth interviews conducted with 26 nature-based practitioners from fivecountries, with various professional backgrounds, and six field observations of multiday nature-basedgroup interventions. The findings of this study illuminate four distinct and common therapeutic factorsenhanced by the natural environment and linked to the beneficial effect of NBTs: (a) the naturalenvironment, 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) expansivenessand interconnectedness experienced through nature eliciting a broad perspective on life and sense ofbelonging. New perspectives are revealed regarding the first two therapeutic factors that have beendiscussed previously in the literature, and two factors that are new to the broad field of NBTs are revealedproviding us with new understandings regarding the therapeutic value of integrating nature inpsychotherapy. All four factors are discussed in the context of examples of practice in the field andtheir practical implications for mental health professionals

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

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Psychological Association


  • Development
  • Nature
  • Nature-based therapy
  • Personal growth
  • Therapeutic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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