Nicole Bernadette Auckerman, Psy.D., is a 2022 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Santa Barbara

Dr. Nicole Auckerman

Dissertation Committee:

  • Susan Hawes, Ph.D., Committee Chair

  • Sandra Kenny, Ph.D., Committee Member

  • Craig Chalquist, Ph.D., Committee Member


activism, biophilia hypothesis, climate change, climate psychology, conservation psychology, eco-alienation, eco-anxiety, ecofeminism, ecology, ecopsychology, ecopsychologists, ecotherapy, expert interviews, nature, mental health, pathology, phenomenology

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Ecopsychology is a systems-based philosophy that expands the therapeutic lens to include client interactions with and perceptions of the natural environment as an integral element of well-being or pathology. Ecopsychology, known forward as EP, also looks at the pathology of our culture and what kind of diagnoses lead to practices that put our planet at risk. In recent decades, the field has amassed a substantial amount of empirical evidence supporting its effectiveness but remains largely underutilized. First generation EP suggested a cultural reordering shifting away from consumer culture and reordering our way of life. Second generation posits working within the current structure is sufficient. They seek to green psychology, meaning utilizing nature as a healing medium, and gather empirical evidence to bring credibility to the field. Most researchers and practitioners agree a new perspective is needed to challenge the dominant social paradigm which views nature and the earth as expendable and separate from human health. As the current political climate becomes more central, there is need for “green” psychologists who are prepared to handle climate refugees, climate change, and mass extinction. By interviewing experts, this phenomenological study seeks to demystify EP while exploring future directions, as well as obstacles, to making it a legitimized field. This research also lends support to ecopsychology, and its applied practice known as ecotherapy as a viable and necessary treatment approach to a range of psychopathologies including anxiety, depression, and ADHD. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (


Dr. Nicole Auckeman and her horse crossing a stream

ORCID: 000-0001-8707-4763


Nicole Bernadette Auckerman is a psychologist who specializes in ecopsychology and equine therapy. She believes that facilitating relationship with the natural world can alleviate feelings of isolation and symptoms of depression. In her early 20’s Ms. Auckerman was employed as a horse wrangler guiding people on horseback through the Hollywood hills. During these short rides she would sometimes witness significant changes in people including increased confidence and sense of connection and belonging. Nicole pursued her doctorate in clinical psychology to further understand and more effectively facilitate these changes. Nicole has designed and implemented her own eco therapy program at an inpatient treatment house for high-risk teens where she facilitates a six-week program utilizing various Eco therapeutic modalities including horticulture therapy, forest bathing, equine therapy, and nature hikes. She holds a Masters in clinical psychology and PsyD in clinical psychology as well as certificates of completion from the ecopsychology program at Pacifica University and a certificate of completion in Compassionate Inquiry with Dr. Gabor Matte.