The Path to Mental Health

Using Trails to Equip Healthy Communities

This webinar will demonstrate ecotherapy ideas for attendees to implement in their own communities, on their own trails, and at different scales, and also show the importance of collaboration for community health.

Presented by:

Event Details

** This event has passed **

January 25, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (Pacific Time) {more time zones}

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM (Mountain Time)
12:00 PM to 01:00 PM (Central Time)
01:00 PM to 02:00 PM (Eastern Time)


FREE for members
FREE for nonmembers

Learning Credit Cost: FREE


Closed Captioning is available for this webinar.
Learning Credits
are available for this webinar.


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Webinar Outline

This session will begin with an example ecotherapy exercise to demonstrate the impacts of nature on mental health. Participants will be asked to imagine a natural space that serves as their refuge in times of stress, and list how that space supports them.

After that introductory exercise and a brief overview of the speaker and related work, we will dive into what ecotherapy/nature mindfulness is and why it’s important.

This section will include:

  • Brief history of ecotherapy and its main theories
  • Summary of research on the physical and mental impacts of nature exposure
  • Examples of ecotherapy activities that can be done on trails
  • Why ecotherapy is important from an accessibility/scalability perspective, as well as equity considerations for implementation
  • Why ecotherapy is vital for addressing climate grief and anxiety and inspiring community action In addition to this background on ecotherapy and mental health, we’ll briefly cover the connection between ecotherapy and public health in terms of reducing social isolation and creating cohesive, active communities.

The presenter offers two examples from their own work and will discuss the development of Ecotherapy Trails and a Campus Ecotherapy Guide at Butler University, and the new Mindful Nature Walks program with Indy Community Yoga, both in Indianapolis. These pilot projects can demonstrate ideas for audience members to implement in their own communities, on their own trails, and at different scales, and also show the importance of collaboration for community health. Lastly, they’ll discuss how cross-sector partnerships can accelerate ecotherapy projects, such as between institutions, individuals, advocacy groups, and other stakeholders, using the two previously mentioned projects as examples. The presenter will suggest strategies for success in project collaboration before we end with Q & A.

Trail uses: nonmotorized. Relevant to: natural and paved surfaces.

Learning Objectives

  • Attendees will be able to describe ecotherapy and nature-based stress reduction, its history and relevance, and potential activities
  • Attendees will understand the benefits of cross-disciplinary collaboration to support mental health and wellbeing in their communities, especially in relation to trails and recreation spaces
  • Attendees will learn about potential tools and programs to replicate ecotherapy or place-based supports for wellbeing in their own communities and on their own trails!


This webinar qualifies as a Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) course (via LA CES).

Webinar Resources

  • Ecotherapy For All Resources (presenter’s website includes a resources page with books and websites about ecotherapy)
  • International Transformational Resilience Coalition Resources (includes January 30, 2024 webinar on community-level mental wellness and climate resilience)
  • Community Design

    For therapists



    Webinar Partners


    Marissa Byers, Organizer, Ecotherapy for All
    Indianapolis, Indiana

    Marissa is passionate about connecting people with the natural environment to improve mental health and well-being and inspire climate action. She graduated from Butler University with an Environmental Studies degree in 2018. Her current collaborative work developing mindfulness activity trails aims to help community members work with the natural resources around them and get outside to connect with themselves, others, and their environments! Learn more at


    Closed Captioning

    We are offering closed captioning for our webinars, thanks to a partnership with VZP Digital. If you are in need of this service, please email us prior to the webinar. An unedited transcript will be sent to all attendees following the webinar.

    Learning Credits and CEUs

    American Trails is proud to be a certified provider of the following learning credits and continuing education opportunities:

    • American Institute of Certified Planners Continuing Maintenance (AICP CM)
    • Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES PDH) (most HSW approved)
    • National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) CEU equivalency petition
    • CEU/PDH equivalency petition for other accepting organizations

    Learning credits are free for attendees for American Trails webinars and the International Trails Symposium, as well as for other conferences, webinars, and workshops we offer credits for. Learn more here.


    While we may individually agree (or disagree) in whole or in part with any or all of the participants, the views expressed in these webinars are not necessarily representative of the views of American Trails as an organization or its board and staff. Unless specific situations are noted by presenters, nothing in American Trails webinars should be considered to be interpreted as a standard.

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    5,054 views • posted 06/28/2023