Tree Therapy

I am so horribly uncreative, but I did create “tree therapy.” “Tree therapy” is what I used to suggest to my counseling clients who were having trouble getting out, or verbalizing, re haunts that were obviously troubling them. I told them to go into the woods and talk openly about what was troubling them to a tree, encouraging them to “just put it into words.” A similar ploy was to have them put “it” into writing and then ceremonially burn the paper. Sometimes I would encourage them to tell of their woe to a pet, and later to a friend, or a pastor, or family member, or to myself. But the point was to verbalize, to “get it into words,” or (borrowing from Shakespeare), to “unpack my heart with words.” And, to complete the process, it is necessary to take the advice of Richard Rohr and tell of the anguish or self-loathing to one other person, this being tantamount to “confessing our sins one to another.”

It is tremendously powerful to put thoughts and feelings into words. “The grief that does not speak whispers the o’erfraught heart and bids it break,” said Shakespeare. And George Eliot advised, “Speak words which give shape to our anguish.”

Now, there is one other dimension to “tree therapy.” It was also very therapeutic to encourage clients to plant a tree, or any type of plant, or flower and care for it. This was to facilitate “getting out of yourself” which is a basic problem with most garden-variety neuroses.


8 thoughts on “Tree Therapy

  1. Sandeep Bhalla

    Mental illness is most misunderstood concept. However any relationship wit plants and garden is definitely helpful as it forces the mind to see the dynamism or frequent changes as are brought in a plant, changing weather monthly and daily basis and flowering of plant. Mental problem is always a problem of adjustments between illusion and reality. No doubt it helped. But to confine it only to people suffering from ‘mental problem’ is misnomer. We all have mental problems at all the time. Every mind with a problem is a mental problem albeit not threatening ourselves and those around us immidiately but same can not be said for long run. I wonder if a gardener ever had to be trated for mental problems!
    Thank God St. Lewis you were not creative otherwise you would have been at Wall Street, creating numbers.


    1. literary lew Post author

      Yeah, me on Wall Street would be pretty sad. But it would pay a lot better! Yes, we all have “mental problems” each day of our life. If there were just no limits, then all would be well! And, seriously, I know that the “problems” I deal with always come down to accepting “limits.”


  2. rihaansh

    🙂 yoooo bhallaji. am happy too that he isn’t at wall street.
    u mean to say cry on tree’s shoulders??? why not serves two purpose . watering the tree and u are free from the possibility of being misinterpreted by a friend.


  3. jeglatter

    Oh wonderful! Just a little while ago I read something that God meets us at the base of a tree. I wish I remember where I read that.:) Therapy is like sitting under a tree and sitting under a tree would be wonderful therapy!:) -Jennifer



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