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Released September 27, 2021 from Aurora, NE
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!
Primary Research Explored
When you log in, be sure to check out the OT Potential Club’s written breakdown of the following research article, then 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.
- Occupational Adaptation
- Attention Restoration Theory
- Place Integration (Malcolm Cutchin)
- Biophilia Hypothesis
- View Through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery (Roger Ulrich)
- Nature’s role in outdoor therapies: An umbrella review
- Nature prescriptions for health: A review of evidence and research opportunities
Research that informed our conversation on the benefits of nature:
- The cognitive benefits of interacting with nature
- Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation
- The relationship between nature connectedness and happiness: A meta-analysis
- Benefits of nature contact for children
- The psychological and social benefits of a nature experience for children: A preliminary investigation
- Could exposure to everyday green spaces help treat ADHD? Evidence from children’s play settings
- Nature-based occupational therapy for children with developmental disabilities
- A review of the health benefits of greenness
- The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework
- Mental, physical and social health benefits of immersive nature-experience for children and adolescents: A systematic review and quality assessment of the evidence
- Physiological effects of Shinrin-Yoku (taking in the atmosphere of the forest)—using salivary cortisol and cerebral activity as indicators
- The relationship between nature connectedness and eudaimonic well-being: A meta-analysis
- Are young children’s utterances affected by characteristics of their learning environments? a multiple case study
- 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
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. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18105117
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. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17124213
- 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?
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 has also had the opportunity to create content for brands like WebPT, MedBridge, Saebo, and NeuroLutions.
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
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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.)
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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.