Exploring Therapeutic Nature-Based Programs for Individuals Who Have Experienced Trauma: A Scoping Review





Trauma, Nature-based therapy, Outdoor therapy, Nature exposure, Nature-based recreation, Therapeutic recreation


With the high prevalence of exposure to traumatic events, therapeutic programs that are focused on the recovery of individuals who have experienced trauma is necessary. Nature-based recreation and leisure programs have been found to be helpful for supporting mental health and wellbeing and are increasingly being used in therapeutic contexts. The purpose of this scoping review was to examine current research on the use of therapeutic nature-based activities being employed to support the recovery of individuals who have experienced trauma. This review utilized an established framework for conducting scoping reviews and a modified thematic analysis to gather and interpret relevant data. There were 25 studies included in this review, with three overarching themes being identified: nature experiences providing opportunities for respite and reprieve from trauma symptoms; building and improving connections and relationships to others; and supporting the development of positive intrapersonal outcomes. Gaps in the literature include a need for more diversity in the types of traumas being researched, the need to report more detailed information on the practitioner backgrounds and qualifications, as well as more descriptive information on program design and activities used to provide more insight into how interventions are delivered. Findings of this review are useful for practitioners to better understand the use of therapeutic nature-based programs for individuals who have experienced trauma. 

Author Biographies

Ashlyn Stevens, Dalhousie University

PhD Candidate

Faculty of Health

Dalhousie University 

Son Truong , Dalhousie University

Associate Professor, Recreation and Leisure Studies

School of Health and Human Performance

Faculty of Health

Dalhousie University 

Adjunct Fellow, School of Education, Western Sydney University



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