Clark Patrick Heard, OTD, OT Reg. (Ont.); Jared Scott, MScOT, OT Reg. (Ont.); Rev'd Stephen Yeo, M.Div, RP, CSCP
Background: In this study, the personal experience of spirituality in nature (the concept of ecospirituality) was supported by occupational therapy and spiritual care staff enabling a community-based group for persons affiliated with a forensic mental health system in Ontario, Canada. Spirituality is a key, though debated, tenet in occupational therapy practice. At the same time, immersive participation in nature has been linked to positive health outcomes.
Methods: A qualitative method consistent with Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was employed. Data was collected via the completion of semi-structured interviews (n = 9). Collected data was transcribed verbatim and then coded for themes by multiple coders. Several methods were employed to support trustworthiness.
Results: Results identified that participation in the ecospirituality group enabled the participants to feel an enhanced connection with nature and an opportunity for unguarded reflection and relaxation. The participants described a regenerative and restorative experience, including a sense of peace and connection with the personally sacred. Enhanced resiliency and meaningful connection with others also were identified.
Conclusion: Recommendations related to outcomes are identified. These include a focus on enhanced access to natural environments for individuals involved in mental health systems. Just as importantly, the opportunity for personal agency and autonomy in those settings appears indicated.
Heard, C. P., Scott, J., & Yeo, S. (2022). Ecospirituality in Forensic Mental Health: A Preliminary Outcome Study. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 10(1), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.15453/2168-6408.1708