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The eeai is a committed ‘not for profit’ community of both members and subscribers, who together introduce, support and promote the practice of professional ecopsychology and ecotherapy on the island of Ireland.
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On becoming a tree hugger by Matthew Henson

Meet our members |  This edition’s bio contribution is by Matthew Henson. Matthew is an IAHIP and UKCP registered existential psychotherapist, certified wild therapist, qualified trainer and group facilitator.


Say it once and say it loud: “I’m a tree hugger and I’m proud!”

The first ecopsychology workshop I attended, in I think 2009, was facilitated by Nick Totton in Derbyshire. I had reservations about the weekend, which I talked about in the opening round. I was anxious that the workshop might be too ‘airy-fairy’. I had been reluctant to tell friends and family that I was attending because of the projected judgements I feared they might make. I informed the group that, in short, I was worried that the workshop might be for tree huggers and, if it was, what would that say about me? It was a serious hurdle I had to overcome if I was to be fully present during the weekend. I was not, and never would be, a tree hugger!


Clean or Serene? by Aidan Ring

Gifts from the Natural World This edition’s research contribution is by Aidan Ring. Aidan is our interim newsletter co-ordinator and a much valued eeai volunteer.


What’s your initial reaction to hearing the word ‘dirt’? It’s probably that dirt is a bad thing, it makes you dirty which is to be avoided, right? When your kids are wearing clean clothes, they are instructed to not go playing in the dirt! It’s interesting what a hard time dirt gets when you consider that mostly, when we’re talking about dirt, we mean garden soil, that black substance from which all of our food comes. We need dirt to survive and yet we scorn it at every turn. This is reflected in the common dirt-related expressions e.g. Laying in the dirt; playing dirty to win; this place is filthy dirty etc. This aversion to being unclean is not surprising considering modern society is only possible through combating the spread of disease with good sanitation and proper hygiene. However, recent research indicates that, quite apart from feeding us, dirt, or soil as gardeners call it, can have benefits that reach far beyond our kitchen cupboards and into our very anatomies.


Meet our volunteers: Jessica Amberson

This season’s volunteer bio features our Interim Association Secretary and Subscriber Co-ordinator, Jessica Amberson


I’m from Cork (like!) and, although participation in the eeai involves occasional travel to Dublin from the real capital, I am really delighted to be involved. Funny that I had to come to Dublin to find nature and those who love it most!

I discovered ecotherapy and ecopsychology as a result of exploratory research for a potential PhD on green/ blue therapies and the wellbeing effects of nature and non-human animals on people with disabilities. Via David Staunton’s ‘Hedge school’, I found my way to people similarly concerned with and about nature.

Ever so slightly (substitute ‘completely’) dog-obsessed and particularly animated about the abuses dogs, especially greyhounds, can experience in Ireland, I did not need to complete any further research to recognise my current concern for, and longstanding love of, animals.


On Eye Contact by Aidan Ring

eeai community submission | This edition’s submission from our wonderful eeai community is a heartfelt piece from our much valued volunteer and interim newsletter co-ordinator, Aidan Ring.


You get onto the bus. You pay the fare and say where you’re going; the bus driver acknowledges this by giving the coin slot a cursory glance and printing you your ticket. He doesn’t look at you but that’s fair enough, you think, as he needs to be watching the road. You thank him and go to find a seat. As you cast your gaze across the bus’s lower floor, you notice that very few of its occupants look up from their phones, newspapers or laps and not one of them looks you in the eye. This is disconcerting; in the entire downstairs floor of a fairly full bus, not one person so far has made eye contact with you.


Earthing by Robert Lewis

Research Corner | This edition’s research contribution is offered by Counsellor/Psychotherapist Robert Lewis. Rob is our interim vice-chair at the eeai and a dedicated volunteer who is both our membership co-ordinator and our research and development co-ordinator.


As a member of the eeai, you have most likely fostered a connection with nature, recognizing the benefit of spending time outdoors, and simultaneously nurturing your desire to protect and care for our planet’s natural environments. The Biophilia Hypothesis, Attention Restoration Theory and Stress Reduction Theory all offer reasons why we benefit from time outdoors. However, new research has offered the further explanation that our cathartic response to nature may be due to physical contact with the ground itself. Earthing, also known as grounding, refers to:

“Contact with the Earth’s surface electrons by walking barefoot outside or sitting, working, or sleeping indoors connected to conductive systems, some of them patented, that transfer the energy from the ground into the body” (Chevalier, 2012)