Dixit, Madhavi Manish (2021-03). Therapists' Attitudes and Beliefs Towards Nature-based Enrichment in Counseling Rooms for Children and Adolescents: A Mixed-method Study. Doctoral Dissertation.
A considerable number of children suffer from a variety of mental health issues all across the world. Psychotherapy and medication are often used to treat these problems, with therapy predominantly being conducted in indoor settings. Thus, the quality of the physical environment in which counseling takes place plays a vital role in the process of therapy. A substantial body of evidence also shows that exposure to nature and nature-based elements can provide numerous benefits for people's mental- health and well-being in various settings. A closer look at counseling research reveals that the counseling environment's role and nature integration in traditional psychotherapy has mostly been overlooked. A sequential mixed-method study comprising of interviews and an online survey was designed to fill in this gap. The main aim of this study was to ascertain 1) if therapists are aware of nature-guided therapy and its potential benefits to clients 2) therapists' attitudes and beliefs for incorporating nature-based enrichment in counseling spaces 3) perceived benefits of nature-based elements in counseling settings 4) ease of incorporation of nature-based elements, and 5) perceived constraints in incorporation. Findings from this study revealed that despite their differences in practice settings, disciplines, and orientations, a majority of therapists believed that the environment of the counseling space affects the clients motivating them to return to therapy. The findings also revealed that most therapists do have a variety of nature-based elements in their therapy settings and use them for different reasons in therapy sessions. The study also revealed that most therapists believed that nature could help make their clients calmer and more relaxed. Further, certain nature-related elements were preferred by therapists over others. Therapists expressed a desire for having windows with natural views and outdoor access to a private garden. Surrogate forms of nature were also found to hold merit in the absence of real nature. Cost, maintenance, organizational decisions, and policies were some of the main constraints therapists face in incorporating nature-based elements. Implications for counseling practice, education, and research are discussed.