Ecopsychotherapy and the Emerging Adolescent Mind

Eco-psychotherapy and the Emerging Adolescent Mind

A Systemic Integration of Our Relationship with Nature into Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Practice

A course for post-qualified child psychotherapists, systemic psychotherapists, child psychologists and child psychiatrists

February 2021 – September 2021

This programme offers a qualification in contemporary approaches to integrating eco-psychotherapy into psychotherapeutic work with young people. Based on theoretical foundations of child psychotherapy, immersive experiential contact with the wild, and a foundation in eco-psychology, it is focused on understanding the impact of nature upon the mental health of young people and ways to facilitate those connections.





Course Director: Roger Duncan

Course Assistant Director: Dr Catriona Mellor

Facilitators & Tutors

Amrita Bhohi, Spiritual ecologist
Pipa Bondy, vision fast guide (Ancient Healing Ways)
Marie Helene Dalila Boyle, psychotherapist, ceremonialist and nature therapist
Ronda Brandrick, Outdoor Expedition Leader and Nature Based Guide
Karen Carberry, Consultant Family Therapist & Systemic Supervisor, Co-editor The International Handbook of Black Community Mental Health.
Michéal Connors, Psychotherapist and Wild Mind Practitioner
Roger Duncan, Family, Systemic and Eco-psychotherapist author of Nature in Mind
Max Girardeau, Co-Director of The Visionaries
Andy Hardie, Senior Therapist (Venture Mor)
Tilly, Senior Field Guide (Venture Mor)
Alexandra Hatfield, vision fast guide and Co-Founder of Wildrites)
Caroline Hickman, Psychotherapist and Senior Lecturer in Social Studies University of Bath
Jon Keen, vision fast guide and Co-Founder of ( Wildrites)
Alan Kellas, Consultant Psychiatrist and Greencare lead for the Royal College of Psychiatrists
Mel McCree, Ecological artist and forest school educator
Dr Catriona Mellor, Child and adolescent psychiatrist
Graham Music, Author and consultant child and adolescent psychotherapist
Sue Stuart-Smith, Psychiatrist and psychotherapist and author of The Well Gardened Mind,
Annie Spencer Humanistic psychologist and earth-based practitioner.
Chris Robertson – Psychotherapist, trainer and co-founder of ReVision
Marina Robb Director of Circle of Life Rediscovery)
Jo Roberts, CEO Wilderness Foundation

Online contributors (providing additional lectures)

Meredith Little – Co-Founder of the School of Lost Borders
Tom Cheetham – Author , teacher, scientist and poet
Robert Romanyshyin – Emeritus professor of clinical psychology at Pacifica Graduate institute
Nora Bateson – Filmmaker, Writer and systems thinker, President of the Bateson institute.
Key Dave Ecopsychologist ,coach and outdoor educator
Bayo Akomalafe Poet, Philosopher, Psychologist, Professor.


The course can be attended on two different levels:

  1. As a Certificate qualification, attending the seminars as above (60 hours) with the writing of a reflective diary (10 hours), showing evidence of relevant reading, video based home study (10 hours) and attendance of three group tutorials (10 hours)
  2. As a Diploma qualification, attending the seminars as above (60 hours) with the writing of a reflective diary (10 hours), showing evidence of relevant reading, attendance of three group tutorials (10 hours) and the writing of a case study of 5000 words (40 hours)

Course elements

The teaching will comprise five core elements:

  1. Practical outdoor nature-based work. Experiential work outside in wild nature. This will include an introduction to the practical skills and facilitation required for wild camping, forest school ethos, bush craft, practical outdoor skills, wilderness work, therapeutic storytelling, use of ritual and solo time, rites of passage work.
  2. Eco-psychotherapy: principles and practice. These elements will cover the current development of eco-psychology, practice models and ways of working, including epistemological differences between Western and indigenous world views. We will explore the therapeutic evidence and value of nature-based work such as green care, environmental activities, outdoors learning and deep nature immersion. We will explore the use of nature-based developmental mapping tools to think about how to navigate different developmental milestones of the healing processes. These include ways of bringing nature into the therapy room, or taking a client outside such as wilderness camps, and solo wilderness vigil (aka) vision fast or vision quest.
  3. The role of nature in adolescent mental health. We will explore the links between the rise of mental health problems and our separation from nature in Western culture, examining the impact on the developing brain of adverse childhood experiences such as complex and developmental trauma and attachment issues, abuse, neglect, and impacts of bullying, social media, gang culture, and academic pressures. We will cover different models of healthy development and therapeutic approaches and the importance of nature and the body in healing. We will cover the neuroscience of using body-based, bottom-up and polyvagal approaches to work with adolescents and how this can be understood from the perspectives of psychodynamic, depth psychology, systemic and relational perspectives.
  4. Threshold work: going beyond the borders of language. This part of the course will cover the personal development of the participants during the program with an exploration of their own experience of the wild and of other-than-human nature through the lens of deep systems thinking and depth psychology. We will invite the participants to build their own connection and relationship with the other-than-human world and to develop their own spiritual practice through eco-psychotherapy. This will be facilitated through work with the imaginal world as described by Robert Romanyshyn, Henry Corbin, Gregory Bateson and Rudolf Steiner. We will explore the limits of our current scientific epistemology and the process of reclaiming the indigenous heritage of Western culture.
  5. Incorporation: practical application and integration. This aspect of the course covers the practical implementation of nature-based work within child and adolescent therapeutic practice and research findings on the efficacy of nature-based work with adolescent mental health issues. We will consider examples of best practice in the field with case studies and reflective supervision. Practical issues such as insurance, outdoor risk management, assessment, screening, safety, safeguarding, training, quality assurance, first aid, and outdoor leadership skills will be covered. This will include multiagency working and how to develop pilot projects with examples of best practice.


Certificate in Eco-psychotherapy or a Diploma in Eco-psychotherapy


Course values

The core value of this course is an inclusive and open-minded exploration of the relationship between the humans and the rest of the natural world in service to future generations

The course is based on three principle values:

  • Inclusivity of all participants voices, cultures and ideas
  • Experiential learning and enquiry
  • Self-reflexivity and reflective learning

Depth work

Participants on the course will be encouraged to use these approaches as part of a self-enquiry into their own relationship with nature, as well as deeper aspects of their own eco-psychotherapy work. They will be supported and facilitated in this process through reflective supervision and given space to integrate these experiences through time in nature, writing, art and discussion.


We intend that by the end of this course, participants will have acquired:

  1. A deep understanding of the current challenges, opportunities and research within child and adolescent psychotherapy.
  2. An understanding of the therapeutic context of a range of eco-psychological interventions within the UK and wider world and how these might be used to support healthy child and adolescent development.
  3. A first hand personal experience of a broad range of different therapeutic nature-based practices and models of human development to gain insight as to how these might be applied in a wide range of contexts.
  4. The ability to articulate a constructive rationale for decolonizing Western epistemologies of nature and mental health and the implications of this for the practice of child and adolescent psychotherapy.
  5. To develop a personal relationship with the landscape and language of the other than human world and ways to explore working with the imaginal world as a way to explore our experience of the relationship with ourselves and the natural world.

Integration of methods

This course will be delivered over a period of 3 weekends and 2 retreats where we will explore different themes of eco-psychotherapy in relationship to child and adolescent development. Each session will contain components from all five core elements which are described in detail below. These are:

  1. Practical outdoor nature-based work
  2. Eco-psychology: principles and practice
  3. The role of nature in adolescent mental health
  4. Personal threshold work
  5. Incorporation; clinical application and integration


Course programme

Part 1
Reclaiming Our Indigenous Relationship With Nature and Mental Health
Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February 2021

Venue: Ruskin Mill College, Gloucestershire

Topics covered

  • Nature, the body and mental health.
  • Climate change, environmental destruction and eco-anxiety.
  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and the neuroscience of developmental trauma.
  • Decolonising the epistemology of nature and mental health.
  • Child and adolescent psychotherapy and the body.
  • Systemic approaches to nature and mental health.
  • Introduction to ecopsychology (practical session).
  • Eco-psychology ideas and philosophy.


Part 2
Children and Nature – the Explorers in the Garden
Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 March 2021

Venue: Ruskin Mill College, Gloucestershire

Topics covered

  • Modernist and indigenous models of child development.
  • Child psychotherapy and the body; bottom up approaches.
  • The systemic integration of eco-psychotherapy and child psychotherapy.
  • Forest School Camp; models and practice of social inclusion.
  • Eco-psychotherapy with children, (practical session 1).
  • Eco-psychotherapy with children, (practical session 2).
  • Reflective practice and case material on children’s mental health and nature.


Part 3
The Call of the Wild – Working with Adolescents
Saturday 22 to Wednesday 26 May 2021

Venue: Laurieston Hall, Scotland

Topics covered

  • Models of psychological development of adolescents.
  • Adolescent psychotherapy and the body.
  • Patterns of adolescent development in modern and indigenous cultural contexts.
  • Adolescents, nature, spirituality and deep ecology.
  • Working with adolescent developmental trauma.
  • Eco-psychology with adolescents: Philosophy and ethics.
  • Eco-psychology with adolescents: Practise, methods, techniques.
  • Eco-psychology with adolescents: adult role models and rites of passage.
  • Eco-psychology with adolescent: Deep nature immersion.
  • Reflective practice and case material on adolescent mental health and nature.


Part 4
Encountering  Nature and Psyche Beyond the Borders of Language – Solo Time in Nature
Friday 30 July to Monday 2 August 2021

Venue: Ruskin Mill College, Gloucestershire – For this event accommodation will be camping but meals will be provided

Topics covered

  • Models of ancient and contemporary wilderness rites of passage.
  • Nature-based developmental maps.
  • An introduction to working with the imaginal in nature and psychotherapy.
  • Use of ritual and story.
  • Deep reflective practice and communication with the “other-than-human” world.
  • Speaking in reflective council.
  • Use of reflective mirroring.
  • Solo time in nature.
  • Management of risk, assessment and incorporation.


Part 5
Incorporation of Eco-psychotherapy into Practice
Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September 2021

Venue: Ruskin Mill College, Gloucestershire

Topics covered

  • Review and critical evaluation of eco-psychotherapy.
  • Integration of child and adolescent psychotherapy and ecopsychotherapy.
  • Implications for the epistemology of our relationship with nature.
  • Multi-agency incorporation of eco-psychology practice, with case examples.
  • Review of learning and personal journey and sharing of case study and practice.
  • Evidence based practise and implications for future work.
  • Reflective review of the course.


Certificate level

Minimum of 80 per cent attendance of taught and experiential days

Attendance of at least two of the three online group tutorials

Completion of a reflective diary (minimum 3000 words) showing evidence of learning from the course and relevant reading

AWARD: Certificate in Eco-psychotherapy

Diploma level

Minimum of 80 per cent attendance of taught and experiential days

Attendance of at least two of the three online group tutorials

Completion of a reflective diary (minimum 3000 words) showing evidence of learning from the course and relevant reading

Completion of a 5000-word dissertation to comprise two case studies offering reflections on your learning process. This will demonstrate knowledge of eco-psychotherapy methods with young people and the integration of these into your therapeutic practice.

Dissertation submission deadline: 15 January 2022

AWARD: Diploma in Eco-psychotherapy


  • The starting point of the course requires that clinicians have competence in core therapeutic skills. All participants must have qualified as a child and or adolescent counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. A sensitivity to environmental issues is considered highly desirable.
  • Participants will need to show their qualification and indemnity insurance documents on Day 1.

Participants must also:

  • Have undertaken a substantial period of personal therapy.
  • Be registered by and practicing according to the professional requirements and code of conduct of their regulatory body (eg BACP, HCPC, UKCP, BCP or equivalent).
  • Have professional indemnity insurance.

Application process

  1. Book for either a certificate or diploma level place and pay deposit
  2. Complete the application form that will be sent to you on receipt of this booking
  3. If your application is accepted we will retain your deposit and confirm your place
  4. If your application is declined we will notify you and return your deposit within 14 days

Staying in touch with you

You will be contacted by Confer:

  • On receipt of your booking and deposit when we will send you an application form
  • In November 2020 with pre-course reading.
  • On Monday 14 December 2020, a coronavirus update on the status of the course.
  • On 21 January 2021 an email to confirm the start date is viable and with all relevant materials for the first weekend.


Due to the coronavirus pandemic we will be watching issues of safety and changes in the health environment. Because of the possibility of further lockdowns your place will be re-confirmed by 21 January 2021. Our hope is that we will be able to proceed but we acknowledge a risk that it may be necessary to postpone the start date if safety restrictions on physical distancing require so. In that case, you will be able to choose to have your deposit returned or transferred to the postponed dates.

If, once the course has begun, a break in the schedule is required due to coronavirus, the course will resume as soon as possible within government health guidelines. In these circumstances, fees cannot be returned.

Regrettably, Confer will not be able to take responsibility for any losses incurred through cancelled travel or accommodation costs if a force majeure requires us to postpone the start date or any other date within the programme.

By completing the application process you agree to these terms.

If you would like to apply, please click the PURCHASE COURSE button and pay deposit for either the Certificate or Diploma level. We will then contact you with an application form.


Course Director
Roger Duncan

Course Assistant Director
Dr Catriona Mellor

Creative Director, Confer
Jane Ryan

Course Administrator
Cressida Moger


Including VAT, vegetarian lunch and supper, other refreshments and all tuition


Certificate level:
£2,860 (After deposit)

Diploma level:
£4,060 (After deposit)

Refreshments and food
Tea, coffee and herbal drinks, breakfast (for those who stay on site), lunch and supper are included in your fees. The menu will be vegetarian with vegan options.


The course will take place in two rural locations:

Four weekends at Ruskin Mill College, Horsley, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 0LA
One five-day retreat at Laurieston Hall, Laurieston, Castle Douglas, DG7 2NB, Scotland

Please book your own B&B accommodation from the following options:

At Ruskin Mill you may camp for £4.50 per night per person. The facilities are basic with compost toilets available but no showers.
To book please contact: Sue Smee on 01453 837537 or 07977 174729. Alternatively you can email

At Laurieston Hall there is a variety of accommodation available including 9 shared bedrooms and bathrooms. One bedroom is available with disabled access. The cost for this accommodation is £25 x 6 nights (£150 – men’s or women’s shared dorm). Outdoor camping is also available to include camping mattresses, pillows and extra blankets. The cost for this accommodation is £20 x 6 nights (£120) for a camping pitch. Please contact Cressida Moger for availability:

If you prefer to stay-off site you may book local B&B independently.


February 2021 – September 2021

Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 February 2021
Reclaiming Our Indigenous Relationship With Nature and Mental Health

Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 March 2021
Children and Nature – the Explorers in the Garden

Saturday 22 to Wednesday 26 May 2021
The Call of the Wild – Working with Adolescents

Friday 30 July to Monday 2 August 2021
Encountering Nature and Psyche Beyond the Borders of Language – Solo Time in Nature

Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September 2021
Incorporation of Eco-psychotherapy into Practice