Psychotherapy in the Natural World: Healing ourselves and our planet

Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September 2019 - Ireland

With speakers Angela Cotter, Mike Delaney, Marian Dunlea, Shirley Gleeson, Joanne Hanrahan, Matthew Henson, Lucy O'Hagan

For millennia people have travelled to “the valley of the two lakes” to deepen their connection with nature, a beautiful place in the Wicklow Mountains that inspires a sense of ancient worship, the numinous and the wild. This conference is an opportunity to come back to these roots with other psychotherapists to explore different ways in which we can enrich and expand our therapy practice.




Friday 6 September 2019

Welcome and music

Saturday 7 September 2019

Registration and Coffee

Joanne Hanrahan
Spreading Roots: integrating nature and psychotherapy in a time of crisis
The development of psychotherapy into the natural world and its impact on mental health is increasingly coming to the fore; the consequences of our connection with, and our disconnection from nature are now very much part of the societal consciousness. While integrating nature into psychotherapy was once seen as a fringe activity, it is increasingly valued as core to our connection back to the self, and to the planet. Join Joanne on a journey where she will review the evolution of the approaches influencing this field to date and how they might evolve into the future, benefiting both therapists and clients.

Coffee and registration for your afternoon workshops
(on a first come, first served basis)

Marian Dunlea
The Bushes Don’t Have Panic Attacks: Introducing BodyDreaming
BodyDreaming shows how body, mind and psyche interconnect, and how working with all three creates a learned secure attachment to our own sensing bodies, allowing trauma to heal. When we orient toward our environment we can draw on the self-regulating properties in our bodies, psyches and the world that surrounds us. Attunement to this inter- connected field expands our consciousness and brings us into a healing relationship with nature that we discover to be reciprocal. BodyDreaming demonstrates how to restore homeostasis to a dysregulated psyche and nervous system by introducing the practice of inner and outer attunement. Our sensing body resonates with this practice, creating new neural pathways to activate the healing process, and changing our default autonomic nervous system response of ‘fight- flight, or freeze’. The practice aligns us with what Jung refers to as the universal self-regulating drive toward wholeness. We discover that we are in a participatory relationship with nature, our nature and that which surrounds us. This alignment brings us a greater sense of coherence as we feel part of this inter-connected field.

Lunch (can be purchased at venue)

Mike Delaney
Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy: A brief history
This presentation will offer a mixture of anecdotal evidence and the results of a one-year study carried out by LEAP on the effectiveness of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy (EFP) when working with people who have been sexually traumatised. We will hear how horses can support and resolve complex trauma without the potential for clients to become re-traumatised by verbalising their stories. The presentation will include a short video of an ex-soldier with complex PTSD who tried EFP “as a last resort” after spending 12 years in military hospitals with no effective relief from his terrifying symptoms. You will hear, in his words, how EFP changed his life and finally gave him relief from his pain.


Choice of Workshops

(Select one and book during coffee break on a first-come first-served basis)

Workshop 1:
Marian Dunlea
Body Dreaming Matrix

This workshop will introduce BodyDreaming, an approach that includes affect regulation as core to the healing process, whether we are working directly with trauma in explicit memory or indirectly in implicit memory. Participants will develop skills in felt sense awareness and attunement that help to deepen and embody the experience of the dynamic ‘still point’. The regulating process helps to loosen the grip of our complexes, creating new neural pathways that enable us to move more freely between places of activation and deactivation, expansion and contraction in our bodies and psyches. While working our dreams, images and narratives we will explore the Jungian view of the Self as the guiding principle which is dreaming us and is rooting us in nature – our nature and nature around us.

Workshop 2:
Lucy O Hagan
Phoenix Park Forest School Foraging Experience Sustainability and respect for nature at the heart of this workshop.

In recent years, foraging has become somewhat of a trend and as a foraging guide, it’s interesting to hear what draws people to search for food. Knowing what to eat and how to survive is one reason, but most people simply want to connect with nature, to understand where our food comes from, to have access to more nutrient rich foods, and to consume fewer chemicals and pesticides. A return to the land, the use of such plants and diversity of flavours rekindles our creativity and enables us to return to a more wild or natural state. It enables us to break free from our urban domestication and to reconnect to our local heritage.

End of workshops

Musical entertainment

Sunday 8 September 2018

Matthew Henson
Death anxiety and climate chaos: An existential-therapeutic response to global ecological crisis
The recent appearance of terms like “eco-anxiety” into our psychological vocabulary can be taken as a sign of increasing ecological awareness within the psychotherapeutic disciplines. Through initiatives like climate strikes, our young people are directly expressing their fear for their future and the future of our planet. Alongside our personal adult responses, I believe it is incumbent upon psychotherapists to respond in a professional capacity. But what should that response be? What might a therapeutic response to “eco-anxiety” look like? How might we work with it in our practice rooms? This presentation explores these questions through an ecopsychological lens informed by existential psychotherapy.

Coffee and registration for your afternoon workshops
(on a first come, first served basis)

Angela Cotter
“In my head the song that has not been sung”: How shamanism can offer new therapeutic perspectives while respecting older traditions
In this presentation, Angela Cotter will start with Jung’s discussion of shamanism and why he saw this focus as important for our time. She will then move on to her own training in Celtic sensibilities and forms of shamanism which speak to her own heritage. The presentation will trace her personal journey through working with dream-like trance states of consciousness with specific clients to a more integrated approach in her clinical practice. Drawing on these insights, she will focus on how other psychotherapists can use shamanic approaches, and the training that is needed.

Lunch (can be purchased at venue)

Choice of Workshops

(Select one and book during coffee break on a first-come first-served basis)

Workshop 1:
Shirley Gleeson
Forest Therapy Experience

This outdoor 90-minute experiential workshop will give participants a practical introduction to a Forest Therapy / Shinrin-Yoku session. Research has shown that Forest Therapy can enhance cognitive restoration, creativity, and increase vitality and positive mood states. Blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol can also be reduced, as can rumination, which can be a factor in anxiety and depression. We will follow a typical walk structure of engaging with the senses, slowing down and reconnecting to self, others and the natural world through the nature connection pathways and circle work. The 5 nature connection pathways will be explored during the workshop: beauty, meaning, emotion, contact and compassion.

Workshop 2:
Angela Cotter
Systemic ritual: bringing a shamanic approach to working with groups

This workshop will engage participants with systemic ritual, an embodied way of working in groups devised by Daan van Kampenhout that brings a shamanic approach to family and systemic constellations work. Working sometimes in the whole group and sometimes in smaller groups, we will explore relevant issues using the ground plan of the Four Directions.

Plenary Panel and Closing Ceremony

End of conference


Confer member:
(Click here to become a member)


£170 (IACAT, PSI, IACP, IAHIP, ICP and EEAI members)

2 x Self-funded:



Certificates of attendance for 12 hours will be provided at the event


The Glendalough Hotel
Co. Wicklow


19:00 Welcome and music

09.30 Start
17.00 End
19.00 Musical entertainment

10.00 Start
16.30 End


Regrettably, refunds cannot be given in any circumstances except as follows:

  • You cancel in writing to 60 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 100% refund.
  • You cancel in writing to 30 days before the first date of the event you have booked, in which case you will be entitled to a 50% refund.

This does not apply to parts of an event such as a seminar within a series but only to a whole event or complete series. You may give your place to another person if you let us know that person's name at least 24 hours before the event begins.

We reserve the right to change a speaker at one of our conferences without offering a refund. However, if a solo presenter cancels we will offer a full refund OR transfer of your fee to another Confer event. If the entire event is cancelled we will offer you a full refund.

We reserve the right to change our prices at any time. Regrettably, discounts offered after you made your booking cannot be claimed or applied retrospectively.