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  • Don Stouder

What is Ecopsychology?


From "The Unbounded Spirit":

Ecopsychology studies the relationship between human beings and the natural world through ecological and psychological principles. The field seeks to develop and understand ways of expanding the emotional connection between individuals and the natural world, thereby assisting individuals with developing sustainable lifestyles and remedying alienation from nature (wikipedia).

Here are 9 Principles of Ecopsychology, as pointed out by the Shenoa Retreat and Learning Center:

  1. The Earth is a living system. Human beings are fundamentally interconnected with the Earth and with all life. Neither the Earth’s problems nor humanity’s problems can be resolved without taking full account of this interconnection.

  2. Ecopsychology seeks to heal the alienation between person and planet, and establish a healthy relationship between the two. A key element of this is recognizing that the needs of the person are the same as the needs of the planet. The rights of the person are the same as the rights of the planet.

  3. Rather than viewing the ecological dilemma as a crisis “out there” in our physical environment, ecopsychology recognizes that human consciousness is intricately involved in creating and maintaining the ecological crisis.

  4. Ecopsychology calls for a new cosmology that embraces not only scientific models and understandings, but also spiritual teachings, ancient wisdom, and the non-Western knowledge of indigenous cultures.

  5. Ecopsychology calls for a profound revisioning of mental health and human consciousness. Today’s dominant models of human consciousness define the human being as an isolated and fragmented entity living in a mechanical purposeless universe. This model of human reality is a product of the old cosmology: the scientific industrial era that now weighs heavily on the planet.

  6. The drive to live in harmony with the natural world and its rhythms is primal innate. Suppression of that drive is just as disorienting and damaging as suppression of other human needs.

  7. The very notion of sanity must be redefined to include our planetary home. Today’s psychology and psychotherapy “stop at the city limits, as if the soul might be saved while the biosphere crumbles” (Roszak). A healthy mature human being naturally develops an ethical responsibility for the Earth.

  8. Ecopsychology utilizes a pluralistic epistemology and methodology, drawing on mythological and archetypal understandings, intuitive and emotional modalities, scientific approaches, and spiritual practices.

  9. Ecopsychology embraces the goals of gender equity (equality between women and men; masculine and feminine), racial equity (equality for non-white races), and “cultural justice” (honoring and learning from non-Western cultures and indigenous peoples of the world).

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