Health, Wellness and the Latest Research
Presentation and Discussion

Exploring the effects of nature and forest therapy on nature connection, mood states, place meanings, and satisfaction with life.

Namyun Kil, PhD, ICGIS, CTRS
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The session presenter will address the effects of nature and forest therapy (NFT) on nature connection, mood states, place meanings and satisfaction with life for participants on NFT walks, as conceptualized within specific psychological theories (e.g., stress reduction theory, process-oriented models). Few previous studies have explored the influences of NFT on these constructs, employing a NFT walk with its standard sequences established by Clifford (2018). The presenter implemented a NFT walk with 15 university students for about 2.6 hours on a weekday in September 2018, following the standard sequences of NFT walks (Clifford, 2018). The constructs were measured before and after the walk and a total of 11 complete responses were utilized for paired samples t-tests. Results provide empirical evidence on the positive health and well-being outcomes of NFT walks including an increase in level of nature connections, decreases in levels of negative mood states (e.g., anxiety, fatigue, confusion), increases in levels of place meanings (e.g., place dependence, community identity, place affection), and increases in levels of life satisfaction. NFT-based activities and settings (e.g., therapeutic mindful immersion or sensory stimulation activities in natural environments) should be provided to enhance favorable outcomes. Future research could verify such beneficial NFT outcomes across various populations including individuals with special needs.

Namyun Kil earned a doctorate degree in health and human performance (Concentration in parks and natural resources recreation/tourism planning and management and minor in Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis) from the University of Florida, and earned master’s degrees in recreation (concentration in outdoor recreation resource management, recreation administration, and therapeutic recreation) from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He currently teaches therapeutic recreation courses including nature-based therapy at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He has experience working with clients with various disabilities, including traumatic brain injuries and dementia. His current research interest is in health and well-being benefits (e.g., forest and nature therapy, ecotherapy, mindfulness), measurement and evaluation in therapeutic recreation, and GIS analysis applications. He has published peer-reviewed articles and made professional presentations at diverse conferences. He has served as a reviewer for the editors of various peer-reviewed journals. He is a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and is an International Nature and Forest Therapy Alliance advisory board member.