Inga Dreimane has a Master’s degree in Psychology and lives in Riga, the capital city of Latvia, where she has been working as a psychologist for almost 20 years. Inga has a specially sharp, deep mind while a soothing way of speaking, who started as an addiction prevention counselor while attending university and points to the “emotional neutrality” of nature as a key element of its therapeutic power.
As a Certified Forest Bathing Guide and Certified Forest Therapy Practitioner trained by FTHub, she feels this professional enhancement is “some kind of returning home”, as she stresses in beautiful ways the singularities of her role as a Guide: “When I’m outside, they build this connection with nature and I take a step back”.
The Psychologist and the Guide
“I grew up in a small village all sorrounded by forests (Voinode), spent a lot of time at my grandparents home and that was in the middle of the forest, literally in the middle of nowhere.
“Several years ago, having a conversation with my cousin, he told me about Forest Therapy and it became my goal. It was amazing. I feel it is some kind of returning home to me. The training was an unbelievable experience for me”.
“I made several walks with individuals and groups, and now I am planning a forest camp for students from socially vulnerable families so they get this recovery and resilience through nature. It is amazing the much difference I felt between me as a psychologist and then as a Forest Therapy Practitioner.
“I really like my new role: I am a witness, a guide, I make sure that participants’ connection with nature is not disturbed by others but I’m a witness. And it is an amazing feeling to see how people change, become slowlier, start to smile differently and even have tears in their eyes, and surprise and excitement. This is very beautiful”.
“When I am a psychologist, I am more active and in direct contact with the patient, we build a relationship, they have to open and trust me, and trust that I can hold their emotions. But as a Forest Therapy Guide, when I’m outside, they build this connection with nature and I take a step back. I am more silent, slowlier, just like waiting and watching.
“In psychology there are those aspects but we have to touch painful memories and experiences, then in nature it also happens but without the words: this communication is happening on another level. And participants really can decide by themselves, it’s easier for them to trust nature, it is much bigger than I am”.
The healing power of the “emotional neutrality” of nature
“In one of the walks, one man said he felt nature from 0 with this eagle-eye walk and deer-eye walk, that he couldn’t believe how he was perceiving differently. One woman with Long Covid had a very slow recovery, feeling anxiety about her energy level, she said she couldn’t even walk in nature anymore, and when we had our walk, I asked her at the end, ‘Do you know how long we spent?’ and she said ‘an hour and a half’, and I told her we had been there for 3 hours. She may have found a new way to be in nature without feeling miserable about not having enough energy.
“I observe it encourages people when they realize nature is emotionally neutral. There is no game, there is no manipulation, nature is just there for you. It is as it is, there are no masks, no roles, just some basic rules. That’s what people can really feel and also you can feel it as an unconditional being. This is that recovery healing power.
“I realize how good Forest Therapy is for people who suffer from codependency, people who have had to learn to hide their emotions and find new strategies on how to survive, that is, not to show and not to feel some parts of them, and you get to nature and you see that there are ‘ugly’ things, like the old, but also the new, and the fragile, and the strong: there is everything in nature.”
Ph: Courtesy Inga Dreimane