Book Review: Forest Therapy

In her new book, “Forest Therapy: Seasonal Ways to Embrace Nature for a Happier You,” Sarah Ivens inspires us to get outside.

I have been a Psychotherapist for about 25 years and an avid hiker/backpacker for about as long. So, as you can imagine, I was intrigued by the title of Sarah Ivens’ new book “Forest Therapy.” I’m a backpacking-gear head and a clinical nerd. I’m always reading books about trails, gear, and current clinical interventions. But I’m also looking for inspiration. This book made me yearn for the forest.

Iven’s work could be summed up as a book that inspires you to get more of you into nature and to get more of nature into you. It begins by thinking about ways to embrace nature. Ivens prescribes a sort of baptism by immersion, immersing ourselves in the dirt, the air, the water, the hills and valleys and all that nature has to offer. For the those that have never hiked a trail, she also suggests a less “hilly” approach or a baptism by sprinkling.

Ivens has structured most of book around the seasons. If you’ve spent much time in the forest know that every season brings different treasures, from fungi in the summer to Ice Ribbons in the winter. Her book has a pleasant, sentimental tone and personal style that reminded me of a series of journals, that I inherited from my mother. I was thinking of “Stillmeadow Seasons,” written by Gladys Tabor, as I read “Forest Therapy.”

I discovered her Mindfulness Exercises and the Testimonials from “embracers” throughout the book. They were akin to finding those delicate woodland flowers or nervous little toads. You stop and embrace and move on. Ivens provides several ideas for getting you into nature. These include hiking, walking on a beach, or visiting a farm. Camping near a stream is one of my ways to embrace nature.

If you want to get more of nature into you, Ivens suggests bringing the smells of nature into your home, and adding plants that add green to the color palate. I bring nature to me by opening the windows on cool nights and wrapping up with a heavy blanket.

Ivens has provide a map for finding nature, a legend for overcoming obstacles and waypoints to help orient us to where we are and where we’re going. In her introduction, she suggests that this book isn’t necessarily for the outdoor extremist. I beg to differ. Everyone is looking for inspiration and simplicity. “We are,” she writes, “creatures wrapped in walls and trapped by to-do list, hibernating while the world sprouts, grows, and changes.” “Forest Therapy” is an invitation to wake up from our hibernation and embrace the forest.  In return, the forest embraces us and helps us sprout and grow in a very hectic world.


Mark K. Neese, LCSW, BCBA

Clinical Director

True North Counseling

Louisville, KY

Disclaimer: I purchased this book with my own funds and no expectations from the author and/or publisher for a positive review.