Learn about the fascinating interconnectedness between human psychology and the natural world.
Our scientific worldview has enabled us to achieve incredible things.
It has led to the creation of modern cities, instant communication with people on the other side of the planet, and even put us on the moon.
But has our technological progress and mastery over the environment come at a cost?
Increasingly, we feel ourselves to be separate from nature, disconnected, cut off from the world around us.
Arguably, this sense of separation is the root cause of many of the problems we face today; both for the planet and for our own mental health and wellbeing.
But is it accurate to view ourselves this way?
Or might nature and human psychology be more interconnected than we commonly believe?
In this series of talks, we’ll explore:
- Forest Bathing & Nature Therapy; the psychological effects of immersing yourself in nature, how the ancient art of ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ (forest bathing) improves wellbeing, and how this exciting new area of research can be applied clinically in the mental health field – Shirley Gleeson
- The Psychology of Climate Change; the cognitive biases that affect how we think about, and act on climate change, why some people deny it altogether, and how you can think differently to protect our planet and make a positive impact – Professor Geoffrey Beattie, PhD
- The Science of Psychedelics & Nature-Connectedness; how ancient plant medicines are interacting with human psychology in the modern world, their effects on our ecological awareness, and how these mysterious molecules alter human consciousness – Dr David Luke, PhD
You’ll learn how these insights can deepen your own connection with the natural world, and how to help others do the same.
- 10:00am – 12:00pm: Forest Bathing and Nature Therapy – Shirley Gleeson
- 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
- 1:00pm – 3:00pm: The Psychology of Climate Change – Prof Geoffrey Beattie, PhD
- 3:00pm – 3:30pm: Afternoon break
- 3:30pm – 5:00pm: The Science of Psychedelics & Nature Connectedness – Dr David Luke, PhD
Lectures & Speakers
Forest Bathing & Nature Therapy: An Introduction – Shirley Gleeson
Forest Therapy (also known as Forest Bathing or Shinrin-yoku) was developed in Japan in the 1980’s. The practice has since spread worldwide. Forest Therapy is a mindful, multisensorial, nature immersive practice. As this is an emerging area, little is known in relation to its clinical applications in the mental health field.
In this talk, I will give an overview of the definitions and development of Forest Therapy Internationally. I will discuss the different components of Forest Therapy including key aspects of the forest environment, nature connection pathways, circle work, mindfulness, the use of expressive arts and sensory immersion. The talk will also focus on the practical applications of Forest Therapy in relation to the mental health field. The issues of personality, culture, level of nature connectedness, trauma history and risk management will be reviewed. Finally we will look at the challenges of working outdoors and suitable site selection criteria.
- Hansen, M. M., Jones, R., & Tocchini, K. (2017). Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) and nature therapy: A state-of-the-art review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(8), 851.
- Kotte, D., Li, Q., & Shin, W. S. (Eds.). (2019). International Handbook of Forest Therapy. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
- Li, Q. (2018). Shinrin-yoku: the art and science of forest bathing. Penguin UK.
- Selhub, E. M., & Logan, A. C. (2012). Your brain on nature: The science of nature’s influence on your health, happiness and vitality. John Wiley and Sons.
Shirley is a Nature and Wellbeing Consultant and Director of both Ecowellness Consulting and the Forest Therapy Institute. She holds Masters Degrees in both Health Promotion and Social Work and has over twenty years experience working in the areas of mental health and social care in Ireland.
She designs nature based interventions to improve people’s health and wellbeing and facilitates nature-based training for mental health professionals. She has extensive postgraduate training in expressive arts therapy, ecotherapy, counselling, therapeutic play, dialectical behavioural therapy skills, behavioural family therapy and therapeutic use of mindfulness.
Shirley is an international expert on Forest Therapy and has presented her Forest Therapy research and practice at conferences in Ireland, the UK, Austria, Switzerland and Greece and has addressed the United Nations on the topic of human health and forests. She has trained Forest Therapy Practitioners from over 15 countries. Learn more about Shirley’s work at: www.ecowellnessconsulting.com/
The Psychology of Climate Change – Professor Geoffrey Beattie, PhD
This lecture will explore the evidence for our changing environment, and suggest that there are significant cognitive biases in how we think about, and act on climate change. It will examine how organisations have attempted to mobilise the public in the fight against climate change, but these initiatives have often failed due to the public’s unwillingness to adapt their behaviour.
The talk will also explore why some people deny climate change altogether, and the influence that these climate change deniers can have on global action to mitigate further damage. By analysing our attitudes to the environment, Professor Beattie will argue that we must think differently about climate change to protect our planet, as a matter of great urgency.
- Beattie, G. (2018) The Psychology of Climate Change. Routledge: London
- Beattie, G. (2018) The Conflicted Mind. And Why Psychology Has Failed to Deal With It. Routledge: London.
- Beattie, G. (2018). Optimism bias and climate change. The British Academy Review, 33, 12 – 15.
- Beattie, G., Marselle, M., McGuire, L., & Litchfield, D. (2017). Staying over-optimistic about the future: Uncovering attentional biases to climate change messages. Semiotica, 218, 22-64.
- Beattie, G. & McGuire, L. (2015). Harnessing the unconscious mind of the consumer: How implicit attitudes predict pre-conscious visual attention to carbon footprint information on products. Semiotica, 204, 253-290.
- Beattie, G. (2010). Why Aren’t We Saving the Planet? A Psychologist’s Perspective. Routledge: London.
Professor Geoffrey Beattie, PhD, is an internationally acclaimed psychologist, author and broadcaster. He is Professor of Psychology at Edge Hill University and in recent years a Masters supervisor on the Sustainability Leadership Programme at the University of Cambridge and Visiting Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was Professor of Psychology at the University of Manchester from 1994-2012.
He was awarded the Spearman Medal by the British Psychological Society for ‘published psychological research of outstanding merit’ and the internationally acclaimed Mouton d’Or for his work in semiotics. He is both a Chartered Psychologist and a Chartered Scientist. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an ex-President of the Psychology Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (B.A.). You can learn more about his work at: www.geoffbeattie.com/.
The Science of Psychedelics & Nature Connectedness – Dr David Luke, PhD
The traditional use of psychoactive plants and fungi for spiritual and shamanic purposes has occurred for thousands of years, whereas the Western scientific research of these substances has only been explored in the last 100 years or so, and prohibition stalled 50 years of this. Now that scientific research is resuming, what do psychedelics tell us about the stranger and more exotic side of human consciousness and its connection with the natural world, and what can be learned from the traditional shamanic practices with these substances?
Exploring the nature-connectedness, interspecies interactions and eco-consciousness arising from the use of psychedelics this talk considers what can be learned from animism and shamanism in informing both psychology and ecology. Fusing research from parapsychology, transpersonal psychology, ecopsychology, ethnobotany and the scientific investigation of psychedelics a perspective of transpersonal ecopsychology views plant/fungus-human interactions as meaningful, potentially transformative and sorely needed given the current rate of manmade species extinction on Earth.
Dr David Luke is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Psychedelic Research, Imperial College. His research focuses on transpersonal experiences, anomalous phenomena and altered states of consciousness, especially via psychedelics, having published more than 100 academic papers in this area, including ten books, most recently Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience (2nd ed., 2019).
When he is not running clinical drug trials with LSD, conducting DMT field experiments or observing apparent weather control with Mexican shamans he directs the Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness salon at the Institute of Ecotechnics, London, and is a cofounder and director of Breaking Convention: International Conference on Psychedelic Consciousness. He has given over 300 invited public lectures and conference presentations; won teaching, research and writing awards; organised numerous festivals, conferences, symposia, seminars, retreats, expeditions, pagan cabarets and pilgrimages; and has studied techniques of consciousness alteration from South America to India, from the perspective of scientists, shamans and Shivaites. He lives life on the edge, of Sussex.
What TWU attendees are saying:
Great initiative! For people that like myself are passionate about psychology but wouldn't commit to long term course or training it's a wonderful opportunity to listen to qualified professionals in the area in a relaxed atmosphere.
Just attended my second Weekend University day of lectures at Birkbeck, this time on Memories, Dreams and Existentialism. A great mix of speakers, styles and content which left me wanting to go home and find out more about two out of the three subjects. Fantastic to see Emmy Van Deurzen in action - she's a bit of a heroine of mine! One tip would be to ask the audience to fill up the rows of seats before the start as inevitably some people arrive late (like I did) and it was all a bit chaotic at the back of the auditorium. There were empty seats near the walls but no way to get to them without having four or five people stand up.
Great initiative. Eminent speakers, fascinating talks.
Another amazing day of learning! Thank you Niall.
I just wanted to say what a fabulous day it was on Sunday. The presenters were all highly engaging and the material fascinating. I am ever so grateful to have been able to attend and look forward to any future similar events with 'zest'!
I thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was a well organized event with fantastic informative talks by knowledgeable and charismatic speakers. Looking forward to future events.
Great event, 3 fantastic lectures presented
I found the 3 speakers to be extremely well prepared, professional, charismatic, authentic in their delivery of there content. They all had something to share. They were very clear on the "takeaways" which I found in important for such a long day. They all 3 were also very generious in spending time after their talk, to answer more 1-2-1 questions on the side of the room. Very generious. I look forward to future weekend university days.
Just to say that I was so impressed with the quality of the lectures today. It is rare to find that kind of substance, and I imagine you looked long and hard to choose. You are doing a great job. I will definitely come again and tell those I know who would be very interested.
I have attended lots of psychology workshops and would rate this organisation very highly. Interesting, engaging speakers and well run course at an affordable price. Well done Niall. You deserve to do very well
What an intense and heartening day, Jan 28th at Birkbeck U venue. Despite being crowded (testiment to the desire for these events and the calibre) we were comfortable enough to be riveted by the material for hours. I appreciated the free coffee, because the day was long for those like me who come from outside the city. I look forward to the slides being sent to fill out my notes. Fellow audients were warm and attending for a variety of reasons, and are the second fab reason to be there for the day.
Just attended Scientific Behaviour Change - Ancient Wisdom & Modern Psychology and had the most fantastic, enlightening and inspiring day. All three speakers were at a tremendously high level and (to echo the reviewer below) the variety of approaches and theories around a single topic gave great insight. I've already booked for next month.
Today's event was so good, I immediately booked for next one in February!?
The day of Psychology was really insightful, it has inspired me to start researching into all spectrums of mental health & psychology. Something I particularly liked about the day, was the contrast and variety of theories and approaches by each of the three speakers
Interesting lectures on a variety of areas of Psychology and well organised.
A really good mix of topics. I was engaged all day and i'm looking forward to the next one!
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