Ecopsychology as an Approach to Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Document Type

Senior Honors Project

Publication Date



For many, childhood evokes memories of imaginative make believe and outdoor adventures. However, the rise of urbanization, technological advancements, and anthropocentrism have paralleled a simultaneous decrease in unrestricted, outdoor play. As children’s lives become digitized and disconnected from the natural world, research outlines an increase in sensory, emotional, and attention disorders. Through outdoor immersion, nature-based occupational therapists (OTs) aim to address the cognitive, sensory, and motor deficits that impact a child’s ability to sustain healthy physical and cognitive development. This project aggregates current research on nature-based OT and its impact on child development through an ecopsychological perspective - that one’s relationship with the Earth has implications for both health and development. Research was conducted via a literature review and interviews with several practicing nature-based OTs across the United States. Further study assessed the racial and class disparities that impact access to both specialized care and the outdoors. To ensure as direct an influence on children as possible, research findings were published publicly within a podcast and provided to parents at a local clinic in the form of an educational resource.


Honors Program


This project has been embargoed until May 2023 at the request of the author. However, parts of this project have been released on Anchor, Instagram, Spotify, and St. Catherine University's Panopto.

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