As I write it is an absolutely glorious day where I live, and I hope where you are as well. Have you ever considered how the weather influences our sense of wellness? Have you considered this from the point of view of the clients you work with?
Conversation Psychologist Susan Clayton, PhD, states, “One of the areas of research that’s really booming in the past 10 to 15 years is research demonstrating that feeling connected to nature, being outside in nature, has a positive impact on people,” she says. “It reduces their stress, it makes them happier, perhaps more productive, even more physically healthy … that’s part of the message that people need to have.” http://www.apa.org/action/careers/protect/susan-clayton.aspx
Dr. Clayton spends a lot of her time at zoos observing how people connect with animals and nature. Her study is concerned with how this connection can influence the conservation of our natural resources.
“People go to the zoo, they’re experiencing wild animals, they’re experiencing lush vegetation, and for them, it really is nature,” she says. “So I like to look at the ways in which they respond to those natural elements, and I do that by watching them and coding their behaviour, by listening to them, and also by … asking them direct questions.” Based on her observations, she has learned that zoos make people happy and “that people are trying to connect with the animals in some way.”
Additionally, she has found that the signs that describe the exhibits can affect the way people respond to the animals, often in a way that makes them more receptive to conservation messages, she says.
Consider what this means for us, the Diversional Therapist, in our daily working role, and how it can influence how we work with clients. Not only will our client base benefit greatly from engaging with natural elements, but we also need to reconsider how we ‘sign’ what we do. Have you ever considered that how you present an interaction might be the deciding factor which influences the client’s level of engagement?
So, this is my challenge for you this month. How can you support your clients to engage more with nature; how do your signs influence the engagement – what might this look like for the client who is not mobile; can you bring nature to them? What might it look like for the client who is palliative? I challenge each of you to consider the work and findings of Dr. Clayton when you are developing leisure plans. I’d love to hear from you how you bring nature to the work environment, and of course, the outcomes!
This month also sees the nominations open for positions on the DTA Board. In the past you will have received reams of paper through the mail! DTA is taking a proactive stance in using technological means to engage with members. As a result, the nomination forms will be emailed, where possible, to members. This year the positions open are President, Secretary, Tasmanian and Victorian representatives. Please consider if you have the capacity to be involved in your peak body – I can promise you, engagement with the Board is a very satisfying experience and you will benefit professionally and personally, as well as supporting, encouraging and promoting Diversional Therapists, Leisure & Health professionals and the whole field of Diversional Therapy. Look inside this newsletter for more information.
By the time you read this, the preparation for Conference will be in full swing. If you haven’t yet booked your place, please do so. There are limited places available, and so much to offer at Conference! I look forward to seeing you there,