therapy (4)

A propos a recent discussion on the 10,300+ member Ecopsychology group on Facebook of cultural appropriation issues in ecopsychology and ecotherapy:
While America is once again been convulsed with the necessity to face up to its cruel history of European conquest, colonialism, slavery and current racist practices, some in the original European colonizing and slave trading countries have until this week felt none of this applied to them. But in the last few days, amid statue-toppling and calls for street and building renaming in many European and UK countries, The Washington Post now openly discusses the "European blind spot: Though many on the continent look in horror at the United States’ police violence and explosions of racial unrest, fewer feel the need to atone for the imperial systems of injustice that in many cases built the economic and societal foundations of their own modern nation-states." And, I would add, those of many colonized nations.
How does this relate to our field? Some of the culturally appropriated theory and practices embraced early on in ecopsychology and ecotherapy in the US have now spread to the UK and Europe, where we unfortunately find that various Indigenous nature-connection practices from colonized countries have been enthusiastically embraced without the kind of soul-searching that has started to happen on Turtle Island. Some in Europe feel this whole issue is an "American" problem, not realizing that it has also become a problem in the original European colonial nations as well.
The next online gathering of the Canadian Ecopsychology Network will discuss one such complex practice: wilderness ecotherapy.
I'd love to hear from European ecotherapists and ecopsychotherapists as to their experiences with things like sweat lodges, plant medicine, vision quests, four directions work, wilderness solos, etc.
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I recently visited a text written by a philosopher, who was a tutor of mine many many years ago - it got me considering what a stranglehold 'objective truth' has on our worldview.

In our culture and society, and also in my internal system, I/we can see scientific based information as grownup, proper, reliable, Truth.

In contrast I/we can see relationship connection-based information as less true, infant, less reliable, more embarrassing, more vulnerable to adult scientific challenge

This is how current western culture values the experience of male white politicians, scientists and business thinking, and devalues the experiences and thinking of women, children, non-white people, indigenous wisdom and practice, and of course devalues the wisdoms and relational truths of the wider other than human world.

I’d like to see this as mistaken thinking, rather than wrong thinking!

I'm inspired by reading an article by Jane Howarth, who was a member of the group working on environmental ethics, which started at Lancaster University way back in the early to mid 1980's:

From Jane Howarth, March 2001:…/…/onlineresources/phenintro.htm

"The standard view of the relation between science and technology is that there is pure science on the one hand and technology consists of applying the findings of pure science.

Heidegger rejects this orthodox view. He argues that science is through and through technological. That its abstraction, laws, concepts, its dominant metaphor of nature as a mechanism, are all guided by and geared to the aim of technological control over nature.

This being so, science is not value free, it is laden with this value of humans as controllers of nature. To regard nature as mechanistic is to regard it from the very start as like an artifact, a machine, something we have made.

But we have not made nature, rather, it has made us. This is perhaps the true message we need to get from evolutionary theory.

So, for Heidegger, science is not a purely factual matter. Scientific theory and practice take for granted certain values.

Are they values which we want to hold? In the light of the environmental crisis, we might well reply negatively to that question."…/…/onlineresources/phenintro.htm

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Call for Contributions: Queering Ecopsychology

Ecopsychology potentially has a lot in common with queer theory and politics. Both are committed to transformational practices without drawing clear lines between personal and political, social and ecological. They both blur other boundaries, questioning taken for granted borders (e.g., between heterosexuality and homosexuality or self and ecosystem). Both have roots in feminism and include ongoing efforts to deepen awareness of intersecting patterns of power and oppression. Both invite us to expand our experiences of intimacy and relationships.

At the same time, Ecopsychology, like any other area of thought, has the potential to develop borders, orthodoxies. In what ways might those be softened, crossed, queered? What does queer theory, queer politics, have to offer to the tasks of radicalising ecopsychology, of keeping it vital?

In this special issue, the European Journal of Ecopsychology seeks to bring together writing by scholars, activists, therapists and other practitioners exploring the fertile edge between ecopsychology and queer. The journal accepts a variety of types of writing. See for details.

Areas that might be addressed include:

* Expanding concepts of relationships and understandings of sexuality, noting how perceptions become narrow (e.g., through problematic normativity, self-scrutiny, consumerism, etc) and exploring how such expansions might enable more connectedness.

* How might/does a queer emphasis on playfulness help take the edge off of eco-earnestness? What might playful queer practices and theories contribute to ecopsychological methods of conversation and transformation? How might ecological discussions and other actions be seriously playful and playfully serious?

* 'Think of the children!': heteronormativity, the (re)production of capitalism and ecological discourse. How might a queerly ecopsychological approach reconsider family, care and (population) growth?

* The unsustainability of (hetero or homo) normativity. How much energy does it take to conform? How might queer deconstructions make discussions and practices of ecological alternatives easier?

* Getting dirty. How might queer contribute to explorations of fear and shame, embodiment and desire in sexuality and ecology?

* Queering taxonomy: species, sexualities, psychologies, genders, races and other categories of control. How 'natural' are the binaries of gender and sexuality we've been taught to believe in? How do taxonomies of psychopathology relate to other taxonomies of humans and of the more than human world?

* Ecofeminism and queer theory. The former has been dismissed as essentialist with the latter deconstructing discourses of 'the natural'. Is there room for a reunion between the two? What might grow at this edge?

* Care of the self, care of the earth. What would happen if Joanna Macy and the late Foucault met to talk tactics? What do indigenous queer perspectives have to offer to vital questions of loving ourselves and the earth?

* Queers in the wild. What might radical faeries, women's communes and festivals, gay male cruising grounds, queer ecotherapists and ecoactivists, queer pagans and gardeners and other queer spaces/practices have to offer to the process of queering ecopsychology?

* Queer temporalities. How might queer discussions of time connect with and contribute to ecopsychological emphasis on cyclical versus linear experiences of time?

* Ecoqueer social movements. In what ways are queer activists expanding and exploring ecological justice? How might a queer focus on the potential fluidity of emotions and desires, genders and sexualities transform Transition Towns, Climate Camps, NGOs and other ecological movements?

* And so much more! We'd love to be surprised by other areas of overlap, synergy and compassionate critique contributors might come up with.

Writers whose work might be considered: Sara Ahmed, Gloria Anzaldua, Bruce Bagemihl, Judith Butler, Octavia E. Butler, Silvia Federici, Andy Fisher, Michel Foucault, Greta Gaard, Greg Garrard, Paul Goodman, Felix Guattari, Ursula K. Le Guin, Judith Halberstam, Chaia Heller, Sandra Jeppensen, Carl Jung, Joanna Macy, Timothy Morton, Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands, Sasha Roseneil, Mary-Jayne Rust, Andrew Samuels, Benjamin Heim Shepard, Kath Weston and so many more exploring the transdisciplinary realms of queer theory, ecopsychology, political
ecology, queer ecology, eco-criticism, critical race theory, queer geography and beyond.

The EJE also very much welcomes non-academic writing drawing on experience in activism, therapy, spirituality and other practices involving psychological and ecological aspects.



QUEERIES TO GUEST EDITORS: Meg Barker <>, Martin Milton <> &/or Jamie Heckert <>

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Vision Quest Research

Hello Everyone,

I'd like to introduce myself and some research on the vision quest rite of passage.

Among other things, I am a training to be a counselling psychologist at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol -

As part of my training, I'm conducting a small research project on the meaning, role and value of vision quest in personal growth and development.

My interest in this stems from my own participation in two vision quests in the UK and also in the School of Lost Borders month-long vision quest guide training in California -

If you have experience of delivering / guiding the vision quest rite of passage, I would like to invite you to participate in the research by completing an online survey -

It's pretty self-explanatory but if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask! I reckon it should take about 30 minutes to complete - and you should be able to go back to the survey at any time if you need to take a break ...

Through the research I hope to increase understanding of Nature-based rites of passage within the psychology professions in the UK, as well as consider how Nature-based rites of passage might be used alongside more conventional therapeutic approaches.

I hope you will consider participating.


Justin Woolford

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