Nature-based OT with Laura Park Figueroa (CE Course)

Earn 1 hour of continuing education by joining the OT Potential Club after listening to this OT Potential Podcast course.

Many of us feel the benefits of spending time in nature. But, these outdoor experiences often seem pretty far removed from our traditional occupational therapy work. 

There’s a good chance you’ve already heard of nature-based therapy, as it is a hot topic in the OT world. However, you might not be aware of the breadth of research available on this topic—and you might be pleasantly surprised by how well nature-based therapy aligns with your OT practice. 

In this episode, we’ll explore a paper looking at the effects of horticulture group therapy on adults with mental health diagnoses. We’ll use this research to springboard into a broader discussion on the types of nature-based therapy, the research supporting this type of therapy, and the potential impact it might have on your practice. 

To guide us through this topic, we’ll be joined by nature-based occupational therapist, Laura Park Figueroa, whose enthusiasm for the topic will certainly leave you eager to learn more!

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Earn 1 hour of continuing education

1. Listen to the podcast for free.

2. Sign up for the OT Potential Club.

3. Pass the quiz and download your certificate!

Primary Research Explored

In the OT Potential Club, you’ll find a written breakdown of the following research article—along with space to share your questions and thoughts with fellow practitioners.

Vujcic, M., Tomicevic-Dubljevic, J., Grbic, M., Lecic-Tosevski, D., Vukovic, O., &; Toskovic, O. (2017). Nature based solution for improving mental health and well-being in urban areas. Environmental Research, 158, 385–392. 

Supplemental Materials

Theories discussed: 

Research discussed: 

Research that informed our conversation on the benefits of nature: 


  • Connectedness to Nature Index (CNI) – 8-12 years
  • Connectedness to Nature Index for Parents of Preschool Children (CNI-PPC) – preschoolers
  • Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS) – adults
  • Nature Connection Index (NCI) – 7 and up


Secondary Research 

Harper, N. J., Fernee, C. R., & Gabrielsen, L. E. (2021). Nature’s role in outdoor therapies: An umbrella review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(10), 5117.

Kondo, M. C., Oyekanmi, K. O., Gibson, A., South, E. C., Bocarro, J., &; Hipp, J. A. (2020). Nature prescriptions for health: A review of evidence and research opportunities. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(12), 4213.

Learning Objectives

  • You will be able to identify the types of nature-based therapy in which OTs can be involved.
  • You will be able to describe ways that nature-based therapy research could impact occupational therapy delivery in traditional settings.


Intro (5 minutes)

Breakdown and analysis of journal article (10 minutes)

  • What is nature-based therapy?
  • Why was this paper written?
  • What were the authors’ methods?
  • What were the results?
  • Authors’ conclusion and recommendations
  • Takeaways for OT practitioners

Discussion on practical implications for OTs (with guest Laura Park Figueroa) (45 minutes)

  • What were your initial impressions of the research?
  • I really wanted to know more about the overall research behind the benefits of nature-based therapy. Can you speak to that?
  • Is there one area of nature-based therapy that is trailblazing the way in research?
  • When it comes to nature-based therapy, which assessments are you most excited about?
  • Do you think OTs in traditional settings (outpatient or SNF) should be tweaking their practice, based on the research we are seeing on nature-based therapy?
  • If someone was interested in diving further into nature-based therapy, where would you direct them?
  • What can the general population (and OTs, for that matter) take away from nature-based therapy research?

Contact hours

1 hour (0.1 AOTA CEUs)

Target Audience/Educational Level

Our target audience is occupational therapy practitioners who are looking to learn about nature-based occupational therapy. The educational level is introductory.

Instructional Methods/Registration/Special Needs Requests/Cancellation Policy

This course is an independent/self-study course delivered via podcast on iTunes, Spotify and Google Play. Explore your listening options on the OT Potential Podcast page.

If you need accommodations to take this course, please contact us and we will address your needs on an individual basis.

If this course were to be cancelled, please see our cancellation policy on our terms page.

Course Completion Requirements

In order to receive a certificate for this course, you must first listen to the podcast in its entirety. Then, you will need to take the test (found at the top of this page) and earn 75% or higher. If you pass, a certificate will be automatically generated and sent to your email.


Laura Park Figueroa, MS, OTR/L:

Laura Park Figueroa, MS, OTR/L spent the first 15 years of her career as an occupational therapist in pediatric outpatient and school-based practice. On the verge of burnout in 2014, she considered leaving the profession…until she remembered a dream she once had way back in OT school: to work outdoors in nature as an OT. In 2015, she started Outdoor Kids OT, a nature-based private practice specializing in outdoor therapy groups for children. She created the ConTiGO (Connection & Transformation in the Great Outdoors) Approach- an evidence-based therapy model to empower pediatric therapists of all disciplines to take their work with children outdoors into nature.

A variety of free resources related to nature-based pediatric therapy can be found in her Facebook group, Therapy in the Great Outdoors. Laura is currently a PhD candidate at Texas Woman’s University, with a research specialization in nature-based pediatric occupational therapy. Her family recently moved from California to Madison, Wisconsin to be closer to family. They are happily settling into their simple mid-century home with a 124-acre wooded nature conservation park right at the end of their driveway. 🙂

Sarah Lyon, OTR/L:


Sarah’s passion is helping fellow OT practitioners translate evidence into daily practice. Sarah earned her BA in religion from St. Olaf College, then earned her master’s degree in occupational therapy from New York University in 2011. Since then, she’s worked in numerous facilities, including a critical access hospital, an acute trauma hospital, and a state inpatient psychiatric hospital.

In 2011, Sarah launched OT Potential because she realized we needed a reliable source of quality occupational therapy-related content and resources.

She launched the OT Potential Club in 2019 to marry her love of simplifying complex topics with her desire to help therapists access the most important OT-related research released each year.

Sarah is a prairie girl at heart, which is why she returned to her hometown to raise her children in Aurora, Nebraska (home of the strobe light).

This course was designed to meet your continuing education requirements

Every state, entity, and country has different requirements for what counts as continuing education, and we have done our best to make sure it meets yours. Please double check with particular requirements. For OTs in the US you can read our post OT Continuing Education Explained.

NBCOT renewal:
This course is designed to meet the requirements of NBCOT PDUs. But, you are advised to make your own determination as to whether the course will be beneficial to your practice. NBCOT does not endorse any specific professional development units.

See #14 on the NBCOT Renewal Activities Chart to see what this podcast would qualify under. (OT Potential is considered a 3rd party entity.)

We are AOTA approved!!
Works for NBCOT PDUs!

State license renewal (within the US):

Our OT Potential Podcast is intended to meet the requirements for “online” and “independent/self-study” courses. If you have any questions about your particular continuing education requirements, please check with the licensing entity in your state.

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