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Re-tuning to Nature: Exploring
2021 course in progress
Enquiries and applications for 2022 open in June
What is Ecopsychology?
1. The emerging synthesis of ecology and psychology
2. The skillful application of ecological insight to the practice of psychotherapy
3. The study of our emotional bond with the Earth
4. The search for an environmentally-based standard of mental health
5. Re-defining "sanity" as if the whole world mattered
Ecopsychology is a broad subject matter which blossoms and blurs into overlapping topographies of deep ecology, eastern mysticism, transpersonal psychology, shamanism and even quantum physics. Fundamentally, it is concerned with the process of repositioning the human psyche within the natural world to allow for a reawakening of our ecological selves. Its premise is that we need to fully grasp our culturally conditioned ego-centricity in order to move towards a more holistic and sustainable eco-centricity. We are the first generation to live with the unprecedented possibility of the extinction of our species and so essentially, ecopsychology is an inquiry into how this shapes our conscious behaviours, unconscious motivations, our interpersonal relationships, energetic interconnections, our sense of self, our definitions of sanity, our making of meaning and crafting of soul.
Re-tuning to Nature course outline
The course is based on a co-operative inquiry model and as such aims to become a relational and participative on-going spiritual practice for those who attend. Through a holistic experiential learning approach including individual learning contracts, the use of peer groups and peer and self-assessment, the course aims to honour individual differences, encourage student-led learning, facilitate transformative experiences and build a lasting community of enquiry, support and practice.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the ever-shifting landscape of government regulations and viral mutations, we will now be running the first weekend remotely via zoom to allow us to settle into certainty that the course will go ahead this year. You will need to have access to the internet, space away from others in your household and, ideally, access to outdoor space where you can sit for periods of contemplation and connection during the weekend.
Weekend One - 19 - 21 March - Spring/Experiential Affective Element/ Creative Assignment set
Weekend Two - 11 - 13 June - Summer/ Presentational Creative Element/ Theoretical Assignment set
Weekend Three - 8 - 10 October - Autumn/ Going Forth/ Theoretical Element / Practical Intentions set
Who is it for?
While many Ecopsychology courses are aimed exclusively at psychotherapists, this course is aimed at anyone who questions the wisdom of modern day customs and culture, who seeks to explore the relationship between the human and more than human worlds or who yearns for a holistic engagement in questioning what it is to be both human and humane. It is designed to help facilitate a personal transformation from an ego-centric towards an eco-centric self and to allow for engagement to take place through experience, creativity, critical thinking and practical application. It is for those who are willing to re-define social realities, to participate whole-heartedly and to take full responsibility for their learning journey while foregoing the comforts and accoutrements of modern lifestyle for three weekends of basic woodland living.
How is it taught? Transformative Education/ Holistic Learning
As the subject of Ecopsychology concerns itself with the facilitation of the transformation from ego-centric to eco-centric ways of being, the course is built upon theoretical foundations of transformative education and holistic learning. At its core, transformative learning is a process of perspective transformation to include our concepts of self, our convictions and our behaviours. The tenets of holistic learning are similarly resonant with the subject of Ecopsychology as they attend to the learner’s body, intention, actions, intellect, imagination, intuition, emotions, and empathic, psychic and spiritual dimensions. It requires learners to be fully participant in their own learning and in the learning of their peers in an intimate, resonant and affective mode where there are no external experts, no lectures and no marks out of 100.
There will be ‘homework’ assignments between each weekend and although these will be set by the facilitator, they will be defined by self-learning contracts: you will set yourself up to fulfil your own requirements and these learning contracts and the results will be overseen by peers. This learning model allows for deep and lasting shifts in perspective, or as one previous participant put it, ‘the learning is now in my bones and it’s not going anywhere.’
When will we meet?
The course will be held over three weekends, spanning six months, that are spaced to allow ample time in between for personal exploration and peer group inquiries. All three weekends will be residential camping weekends Update as of 1st February 2021: due to uncertainty surrounding lockdowns/travel restrictions etc, the first weekend will be adapted and conducted through Zoom
Basic camping equipment and waterproof clothing will be required. Further information on practicalities and equipment will be provided upon registration for the course.
The course costs £850 and will include 3 x weekends of workshops and residential fees.
We believe in being able to offer concessionary fees where needed. However the cost of the course is an accurate reflection of its value so please only apply for concessionary consideration in extreme circumstances.
Terms and conditions as well as methods of payment will be made available upon registration for the course.
Feedback from previous participants
'I found the course thoroughly engaging, enjoyable, inspirational and transformative.' A, 2019 cohort
'The bits that remain with me the most are hard to put into words. But a stirring and shifting started in me right from our first council, and I can only describe that feeling as a sort of magic. Every step challenged me deeply to confront my fears, to honour my gifts, and gave me the opportunity to express myself authentically. It's thanks to Jane and Jess, for creating and holding such a deeply nourishing and healing safe space, that I’ve been able to awaken dormant parts of myself. Over the past months I have felt witnessed in the truest sense, perhaps for the first time in my life, by the community we built together in that soggy field. The learnings go deep, as only experiential lessons can; they permeate where academia can only scratch the surface. I feel so incredibly rich for having had this experience.' S, 2019 cohort
Where to begin to describe this course? The word 'life-changing' is bandied about so often, to the point where it sounds like a cliche. And yet this course is the real deal, it has genuinely changed my life. As with any significant process, there have been highs and lows, difficult times and glorious ones. This course is structured to ensure that every part of you is welcome, and you never feel alone with any of your experiences. The course is a powerful container, plenty strong enough for all the storms and celebrations that may play out within it. Jane and Jess are an important part of that. They role model what it means to bring your whole self, while also holding the whole process beautifully. Somehow they know when to comfort and when to challenge, when to guide and when to leave you to find your own way. The peer groups are also key, as of course is nature herself. If you want a powerful and beautiful journey, where you connect in a new and meaningful way with nature and with other people, where both challenge and support are high, then this is the experience for you. thank you, thank you, thank you! It’s an amazing and very special thing you have created. C, 2019 cohort
I was on a real high after the course, it took me a few weeks to come back down to earth and I am probably still digesting it all. The whole process gave me time to research and focus on issues that I had been wondering about with some next steps. Enjoying the insights and positions of everyone else was enlightening with varied magical activities. The support given to those in difficulty was beautiful to behold. Y, 2019 cohort
The course helped me in my personal development and with exploring aspects I would have not explored otherwise. It was challenging but immensely enriching. Realisations happened and beautiful connections with the other participants. I signed up for the course because I wanted to offer ecotherapy activities in my work environment but in the end this course was much more than that. Less about work and much more about myself, my mindset, views, feelings on a very deep connected level. M, 2019 cohort
“The holistic learning model was one of depth and really enabled me to own my knowing. It was more than reading in books and understanding, it has lead me to an embodied whole -hearted belief in my experience, which is unshakable in this crumbling world. The course has taken me to places I wouldn’t have otherwise explored and challenged and pushed me beyond my comfort zone to the point that I found home again” - K
'The whole experience of the course pushed me out of my comfort zone a lot of the time, a lot of the times I wondered why I was doing this. But I have walked away with more trust in my experience of what I am capable of doing and where I go next. I walked away with a clearer understanding of where I am in relationship with a lot of things in my life and where I need to go next in terms of being more of myself out in the world and what I can offer, and it was through my own unique learning and way of learning.' A
'My heart feedback is that I feel I have been on a deeply transformative journey, one that has shifted and shaped me in really significant ways, bought me closer to myself, to my connection with nature and to universal love. This was undoubtedly held and made possible by a wonderfully thoughtful, warm and truthful faciliator who was brave enough to step aside and let the woods whisper their wisdoms - so thank you.' S
'As with anything transformative and liminal one can only really talk around it, but the experience has very much given me a radically different outlook on my life, my existence as an embodied and situated being, as a being connected in plurality of ways to all other beings and also a very different experience/feeling/attunement to whatever is beyond me (dare I say spirituality). All this happened/developed/moved on through the experiences and the relationships that were fostered and developed via the course.' A
'I felt my experience was valid & honoured which was such a gift & certainly the way I want to learn. It brought out the side of me that is wise, creative, transformative & joyous. I feel I have grown as a person & my relationship to nature has become so much more tangible & solid.' J
Jane’s qualifications and experiences are widely varied and when viewed together, they just about make sense in the wide-angle lens of Ecopsychology. She holds a BA in psychology from a liberal arts university, a post-graduate diploma in Counselling Psychology, an NVQ in Horticulture with a specialisation in Forestry, a chainsaw licence and a Masters degree in Human Ecology which included what was the only academic offering in Ecopsychology at that time. Immediately after completing the MSc, she re-developed and delivered the Ecopsychology module for the Centre for Human Ecology as it made its departure from mainstream academia. She worked on a farm with homeless people and as a landscape gardener thus carrying out eco-therapy long before she ever had a name for it or even knew that this is what she was doing. Since discovering the world of ecopsychology and its related subjects, she has been delivering eco-education to ten thousand kids from all over the world, planting orchards with young homeless people, facilitating Commercial and Community groups around the city on behalf of One Planet Brighton, working with the Values and Sustainability Research Group at the University of Brighton and the International Tree Foundation. She has enjoyed further training with Joanna Macy in the Work that Reconnects and Rosemary Randall in Carbon Conversations and has been delving into collective grieving practices. Facilitating transformational processes and collective conversations about the possibilities for enlivening ourselves and our senses is what ties all of this together to define her work and make her heart sing.
Jess is the founder and manager of the Centre for Ecotherapy. She spent the major part of her early adult life living off-grid, close to the land, following the seasonal agricultural crops across the UK and Europes. After much adventuring she returned to UK to train as a Teacher in the Lifelong Learning Sector working with disadvantaged young people in Pupil Referral Units in Kent. Her path has caused, and enabled, her to delve deeply into her nature-centred spiritual being, learning to instinctively trust her body and her heart, making decisions that come from deep inside. She has valued and developed her conversation with the natural world, resisting the social expectation to erect barriers between herself and non-human lifeforms. She established her private gardening business in 2010 when she moved to Brighton and began volunteering in a local community garden. From there it was just a skip and a jump to embarking on her career as a Social and Therapeutic Horticulture practitioner. She founded the Centre for Ecotherapy in 2014, determined to combine her personal passion with her drive to extend the healing benefits of nature to people in need in the local community. She facilitates community therapeutic horticulture and ecotherapy services, delivers training to professional practitioners and the public, and strives constantly to develop the Centre into a self-sustaining not-for-profit organisation alongside committed volunteers and supporters. You'll find her on the wilderness site, talking to the robin.
Application process for 2021 - please read carefully.
To express interest please email firstname.lastname@example.org and write ‘ECOPSYCH 2021’ in the subject box.
In order to apply for a place on the course, please submit a personal statement that addresses these questions (no more than 1000 words please):
* What is it about ecopsychology that interests you?
* How might you apply what you learn about ecopsychology on this course to your everyday life?
* What life experience do you feel you bring that relates to this course?
*What support systems do you have in place to sustain and support you through a transformative process?
Applications will be dealt with on a first come-first served basis and places are limited to a maximum number of 12 participants.