Hazelbank Park Workshop with Gail Calwell


Reading Link for the Workshop

Back to Belonging: Nature Connection and Expressive Arts Therapy in the Treatment of Trauma and Marginalisation by Jesse Newcomb

Back to Belonging_ Nature Connection and Expressive Arts Therapy

Focusing on the Natural World: An Ecosomatic Approach to Attunement with an Ecological Facilitating Environment by Jennifer Beauvais in Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy.  Link Below:



Photo by Lisa Kelly


Photo by Harriet Underwood

Bringing the Inside Out and the Outside In

A workshop by Gail Calwell

Many of the clients that get referred for art therapy find themselves struggling to connect- to themselves, to others and to the world around them. The drive for connection, to both human and more than human is a basic need that often gets overlooked. The importance of relationships in the quest to find meaning, make sense of self and to find purpose is crucial to our wellbeing.

There are many parallels between art therapy and nature based therapy, for example the need to maintain a relationship, to value nonverbal ways of communicating/listening/speaking, sensory and somatic components, the use of imagination and of play, embodied experiences and the importance of a non-judgemental space.

There is a growing body of research into the benefits of incorporating nature-based arts approaches to support mental health. There are various models involved and some focus more on the environment as providing the materials, objects and metaphors. Whilst this level of engagement includes mindful presence and a sensory experience it is more focused on what the individual can ‘take’ from the environment and is more human centred. Other models view nature as a co-therapist, an equal, friend and ally not separate but part of us. Engaging in nature based art therapy can help develop a sense of connection to the wider web of the planet and can heal relational trauma.

Ecopsychology theory suggests (Beauvais 2012) that “because we have evolved within the earth’s ecology, we remain implicitly connected to it beyond conscious awareness. They claim that by spending time in and cultivating awareness to nature, we can reinvigorate feelings of belonging and connectedness to it”(p.129). (Reference for quotation at top of blog post)


Photo by Lisa Kelly

Summary of Hazelbank Workshop Themes

  • Explore the natural world around us for therapeutic wellbeing (relationships with self, peers and the natural environment).
  • Promote individual wellbeing and ecological awareness.
  • Deepen individual relationships with nature and support the development of a sense of a wider web of connectedness and integration
  • Create a story/narrative to share with the group, with nature as a co-therapist.
  • Develop your skills of story creation and storytelling.


Photo by Laura Clark

Reflections on the Workshop by Laura Clark

“For me, getting outside and engaging in natural enviroments lifts the mood and I am experiencing this more and more with my own family.  Although for risk purposes I cannot do this with probation clients, I could bring in a natural sensory bag full of goodies as an alternative. Secondly, the idea of a story, full of hopes, dreams, monsters or whatever the imagination or subconscious can conjure up allows both client and therapist insight into aspects of their own life story”


Photo: Artwork made by Laura Clark and her family after the Hazelbank workshop.


Photo of Workshop location by Lisa Kelly