Diversity and Inclusivity in Ecopsychology

Perhaps one of the greatest assets of ecopsychology is its focus on healing through a process of “wholeing” (becoming whole), rather than healing or “fixing” a problem by eliminating it; wholeness-centered (holistic) instead of pathology-centered (Plotkin, 2008). It is a psychology that focuses on non-duality, compassion, awareness, mindfulness, and the integration of these characteristics into who we are as humans.

Ultimately, ecopsychology is a diverse and integrative field that helps humans move toward the remembering of Sacred Relationships resulting in the transformation of individuals and society. It values differences and recognizes that healthy ecosystems and communities are a pluralistic collection of diverse species, rather than a monoculture; each of us a unique individual contributing to the parts of a bigger whole.

The field of ecopsychology maintains that psychological diversity is similar in that it is multi-faceted, multi-layered, complex, interdependent, adaptive, and alive. Within our psyches there is birth, death, regeneration, and transformation, just like in nature. Psychologically there are different stages of maturation and lack of harmony within our own psyches can lead to conflict. Truly knowing ourselves; asking ourselves who are we again and again and being able to answer the question differently every time it is asked is an important element of healthy psychological diversity.

The different applications of ecopsychology centre on embracing connection to self, mystery, and All Our Relations (not just family but also other-than-human beings including animals, plants, rocks, trees, wind, stars, the entire ecosystem; all of creation). It includes elements not limited to mindfulness and awareness practices, direct contact with nature, ecotherapy, wilderness therapy, environmental education and action, bioregionalism, ritual, ceremony, play, and the expressive arts. It is being practiced in the remote wilderness, and in cities.

It respects indigenous practices and rituals from around the world and is a compassionate way that guides us toward healing the land and ourselves.

Ecopsychology may be thought of metaphorically as Coyote Psychology. Coyote is an important animal in many North American Native cultures: guardian, teacher, symbol, and beloved (if unpredictable and eccentric) Elder. He is a master at moving through perceived boundaries: He can be found in the remote wilderness, and in cities. He is adaptable and adept at exploring 'edges.' As a result, he thrives. Ecopsychology draws on the lessons that Coyote has to teach: It is the fusion of science and Mystery. It includes spirit and knowledge, hard facts and the unexplainable. It respects scientific methodology as well as indigenous practices and rituals from around the world - old and new, requiring full engagement, alertness, and quickness of observation, like Coyote, to see both measurable fact and immeasurable nuance.

The integrative qualities of ecopsychology, its many applications, and its respect for diversity and inclusivity allow it to approach healing from a holistic point of view, accessible to all people of different cultures and spiritual backgrounds.

Plotkin, B. (2008). Nature and the Human Soul. Novato, CA: New World Library.