Graduate school adds Ecotherapy Certificate program for next fall

Two brick buildings on the graduate campus under a cloudy sky.
Leo Bernstein Newman / The Mossy Log

Applications for the most recent addition to the  Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education & Counseling, the Ecopsychology Certificate program, are opening soon for the Fall 2023 semester.

Previous directors’ legacies have helped pave the way for the healing power of nature to spread. The ecopsychology field’s budding momentum from the 1990s and 2000s was continued through Thomas Doherty, who is credited with starting the program in 2011. Former Ecopsychology Program Co-Director Patricia Hasbach also helped expand the program as one of the founding members. Only a handful of schools across the country offer degrees or certificates in ecopsychology, which fits right in with LC’s environmentally conscious community. 

Patricia Hasbach announced her retirement in March of this year, making her Co-Director Carol Doyle the sole director of the department. Doyle is an associate professor in the department of Counseling, Therapy, and School Psychology. Doyle’s areas of expertise are research methods and statistics, gay and lesbian identity development, and sexual minority issues in counseling.

 Hasbach had published multiple books, most recently “Grounded: A Guided Journal to Help You Reconnect with the Power of Nature and Yourself.” She also has a private practice. 

“We have lost touch for many of us in terms of our day-to-day connection with the natural world,” Hasbach says, “We know intuitively, and now we know through studies, that we have great healing that can happen in our time spent in the natural world, particularly when we are entering the natural world in a very intentional kind of way.”

The program is focused on the connection between humans and nature, in the context of climate change, conservation and sustainability. Ecopsychology takes into account the influence those notions have on trauma, development and emotions, critically analyzing the healing processes that take place relative to them. It explores topics like the human-animal relationship, empowerment, activism, environmental justice and community in both counseling and therapy.

 “Ecopsychology is not only a framework for professional practice, it’s a framework for how to see the world,” Doyle said. 

The application is open to current or past LC graduate students, as well as students and professionals with comparable graduate-level mental health or counseling experience. 

The program is eight semester hours worth of degree-applicable credit. Courses are available on the weekends or weekday afternoons and are fully in-person. There are five courses in the program, ranging from Introductory Ecotherapy to Applied Ecotherapy. There is also a hands-on Wilderness and Adventure Therapy Immersion course where participants learn backcountry safety, outdoor leadership and wilderness philosophy.

 “We want to think about the power of nature because we are in fact a part of nature, we are an evolutionary species that evolved embedded in the natural world,” Hasbach said. “This program is an opportunity to experience transdisciplinary knowledge as counselors, therapists, educators, activists, consultants and researchers while getting to reflect on humans’ role in the natural world.”

Applications open Oct. 1. Any questions about the application process and program may be directed to gseadmit@lclark.edu.

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