🌿 Research shows benefits from contact with nature that include the restoration of attention, stress reduction, positive mood states, emotional regulation and physiological health improvements. Engaging with the natural world promotes calm, alert states and provides an endless source of challenges that recruit the brain’s cognitive and emotional resources for new learning. 🌿
Minneapolis Nature-Based Therapy was started in December, 2020 by Kari Kleven, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) who had spent her career working in community mental health with young children and families, as a therapist and supervisor, in offices and homes. The pandemic pushed her to pursue a long-time interest in nature-based therapy. In her research she found examples of nature-based therapy in other places but nothing yet in the Twin Cities. She started small, trying it out with just a few (brave ) clients and learning with every session. Now by the end of 2023, she and her colleagues have had over 2,000 sessions outside! They are finding that people of all ages are experiencing the benefits of taking the therapeutic process beyond the limitations of the office walls, to interact with the natural living world around us.
In April, 2022 Xavier Schmitz joined Minneapolis Nature-Based Therapy. Xavier brings 16 years of experience working with individual, couples and families, including extensive experience working with transgender and LGBQ+ communities. In September, 2022 Annie Bunio joined the practice first as a master's level clinical intern with years of experience working with individuals, groups, and families of various backgrounds to make the outdoors more approachable, then as a full time therapist in August, 2023, under the supervision of Kari. In November, 2023 Rachel Voit joined the practice, bringing a strong foundation of professional knowledge and broad skillsets in the world of nature-based care with children and families. See our individual pages for more information.
The benefits of spending time in nature are increasingly well documented across disciplines: public health researchers describe a multitude of health related evidence related to nature-based activities; a growing number of doctors are prescribing nature for their patients; occupational therapists are offering nature-based outdoor play groups and camps; news outlets run stories about how workers are less stressed and more motivated when they are surrounded by plants, water and other natural elements; nature-based preschools are thriving; counselors are offering "walk and talk" therapy here in our city and around the country.
Nature-based therapy fits into this picture as part of a diverse range of ecotherapy practices that involve partnering with nature for the joint purposes of promoting healing for both humans and the earth. We are entering this emerging field with excitement, as both learners and as experienced clinicians. We offer high-quality clinical interventions. And by engaging with nature as a therapeutic partner -- bringing therapy outside in client-centered, intentional ways -- we can enrich those interventions and have access to additional, powerful resources to help clients address their goals, increase emotional and physical well-being, promote healing and resilience, and expand the scope of possibilities for truly vital engagement with the world.