Jennifer Keller, Ph.D., is a 2023 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England
- Jean Kayira, PhD, Committee Chair
- Jason Rhoades, PhD, Committee Member
- Louise Chawla, PhD, Committee Member
forest bathing, forest therapy, nature therapy, adolescent well-being, ecoanxiety, ypar, mixed methods, photovoice, nature connection, nature connectedness, connection to nature, climate anxiety
Previous research has demonstrated that practicing forest bathing has significant positive effects on well-being. However, few studies have investigated whether forest bathing increases adolescent well-being despite the growing adolescent mental health crisis in the United States. Similarly, few studies have explored forest bathing’s impacts on connectedness to nature. Considering the ongoing environmental crisis, determining if forest bathing increases connectedness to nature is a critical expansion of forest bathing research, as connectedness to nature is linked to environmental care and concern. This study investigated the possibility that forest bathing, a nature-based mindfulness practice, could increase adolescent mental well-being and connectedness to nature and sought to determine participants’ experiences of practicing forest bathing. This study used a convergent parallel mixed-methods design that was partially co-created with 24 participants aged 16-18 as part of a youth participatory action research (YPAR) project where participants practiced forest bathing three times over three weeks. After practicing forest bathing, participants’ mental well-being increased significantly, as measured by the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well Being Scale. Connectedness to nature also increased significantly as measured by the Connectedness to Nature Scale. Participants described reduced stress and increased feelings of relaxation, peace, and happiness as well as increased connection to nature, gratitude for nature, concern for nature, and desire to care for nature. Although this is one of the first studies to examine forest bathing impacts on participants' connectedness to nature, these findings correlate with other studies showing that spending time outside in nature increases connectedness to nature and care and concern for the environment. People working with adolescents could consider forest bathing as a practice that increases connectedness to nature while also increasing mental well-being.
Keller, J. (2023). Forest Bathing Increases Adolescent Mental Well-being And Connection To Nature: A Transformative Mixed Methods Study. https://aura.antioch.edu/etds/953
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