Environmental Arts Therapy : The Wild Frontiers of the Heart book cover
1st Edition

Environmental Arts Therapy
The Wild Frontiers of the Heart

ISBN 9781138345867
Published November 26, 2019 by Routledge
246 Pages

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Book Description

Environmental Arts Therapy: The Wild Frontiers of the Heart describes what happens when we take the creative arts therapies and the people whom we work with out of doors in order to provide safe, structured and accompanied creative therapeutic healing experiences. The theoretical themes are developed along with illustrated examples of clinical practice across a variety of settings and locations.

The work is introduced and co-edited by a pioneer in the field, Ian Siddons Heginworth, who describes the emergence of environmental arts therapy and its growth across the British Isles supported through the training course based in London. The following 12 chapters are written by contributing authors and creative arts therapy practitioners working with children, adults and elders in schools, adult mental health and private practice in Britain and Europe. A central focus of the book is the clinical populations and settings in which clinicians work, and it also describes the health benefits as well as the challenges faced when working out of doors.

This is a book about the emergence of a new creative therapy modality in the British Isles. It shows the value of working with the natural cycles and seasons, using an integrative arts approach including dramatic enactment, role-play, poetry, art-making with natural materials, storytelling, and the use of bodywork through movement, sound, rhythm and the voice, all held and reflected by our encounters with and in nature. It is about our relationship with nature, creativity and therapeutic healing and is written for trainers, trainees and practitioners in the creative arts, psychotherapy and ecotherapy.

Table of Contents


Mary-Jayne Rust


Introduction by the editors

Ian Siddons Heginworth and Gary Nash

Part I Environmental arts therapy in context

Chapter 1. Turning: the emergence and growth of environmental arts therapy in the British Isles

Ian Siddons Heginworth

Chapter 2. Weaving the threads of theory and experience: a review of the literature

Gary Nash

Part II Childhood, love and attachment: the heart of the matter

Chapter 3. The wild inside: offering children natural materials and an ecopsychological understanding of self within art therapy

Lydia Boon

Chapter 4. EarthWays: Environmental arts therapy for repairing insecure attachment and developing creative response-ability in an insecure world

Lia Ponton

Chapter 5. Bringing the outside in: reflecting upon mother within a pilot group in environmental arts therapy

Michelle Edinburgh

Part III Feminine and masculine: putting feeling first

Chapter 6. Meeting the wounded feminine: trauma-informed environmental arts therapy as an approach to working with physical illness

Susie Thompson

Chapter 7. The wood between the worlds: encountering the wounded healer in environmental arts therapy

William Secretan

Chapter 8. The tapping on the window: environmental arts therapy and the integrated self

Auriel Eagleton

Part IV The cycle of the year: working with the seasons

Chapter 9. Taking art therapy outdoors: a Circle of Trees

Gary Nash

Chapter 10. Creating connections: introducing environmental arts therapy in to London’s green spaces

Simon Woodward

Chapter 11. Space to move, explore and create: taking art therapy into the outdoor environment in adult mental health services

Pamela Stanley

Part V Elderhood and endings: the wild road on

Chapter 12. Trees of life and death: a journey into the heart of Transylvania to use environmental arts therapy with groups of adults and staff in palliative care

Hannah Monteiro

Chapter 13. Growing elders: the cultivation and collaboration of an elder women’s group in the woods

Deborah Kelly and Vanessa Jones


Ian Siddons Heginworth

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Ian Siddons Heginworth is the author of Environmental Arts Therapy and the Tree of Life, the book that has inspired the growth of the environmental arts therapy movement in the UK. He leads the postgraduate certificate course in environmental arts therapy at the London Art Therapy Centre and runs a private practice in Devon.

Gary Nash is an art therapist and educator in art and environmental arts therapy training. He co-founded the London Art Therapy Centre in 2009 where he is Clinical Co-Director providing individual art therapy, supervision and group environmental arts therapy.


"The deep connection with nature’s capacity for healing is intrinsic to all life throughout history and across all cultures. In recent times there has been renewed interest from psychotherapists to work with clients in nature. In this exciting new book, arts therapists Ian Siddons Heginworth and Gary Nash have chosen a collection of essays on Environmental Arts Therapy introducing new fresh voices to the discipline. As the practice develops and each Environmental Arts therapist forges a way with diverse emerging perspectives, there is simultaneously a return to older traditions where the wise elders are taking people back into nature for healing and growth. Our flourishing community of Environmental Arts therapists describe and reflect on their various considered and creative approaches."

- Hephzibah Kaplan, Art Therapist and Director of the London Art Therapy Centre

"This book is an exciting addition to the growing literature on environmental arts therapies. The editors show how this movement has become an established form of arts therapy, drawing on previous work by others, and leading to their environmental arts therapy course, the first of its kind, based on the cycle of the year. The book also contains fresh voices taking environmental arts therapies into new contexts. At a time of global environmental crisis, this book paves the way to a new way of envisioning therapy, showing the benefits of taking people and therapy out into nature, or bringing nature into the therapy room. It reminds us of the importance of our environment – not an optional extra but the ground of our being."

- Dr Marian Liebmann, OBE, Art Therapist, teacher and author of art therapy books