Rosie Mc Laughlin

Wilderness bringing relief from mental and social health issues

Rosie Mc Laughlin hardly catches her breath between sentences, and just as passionately supports people in difficult social and personal situations. She is a Forest Bathing Guide trained by FTHub, is about to start working in the UK National Health Service (NHS), and is dedicated to her role as an Outreach Worker in Venture Trust, a scottish organization who supports people facing challenging circumstances. 

Venture Trust offers different types of immersive journeys into the wilderness to help people improve social challenges such as poverty, addiction, a difficult past who want to make changes and enhance personal development. Rosie meets them among green spaces before and after this intensive learning. 

“My background is working as a mental health professional for the last nine years in Scotland. I’ve had the privilege of working for different charities and the NHS in psychological therapy. I have provided practical everyday support, in-depth psychological therapy and outdoor therapeutic approaches”. 

“Wilderness gives people a boost of confidence, helps them go to a positive destination. We work with people in the criminal justice system with low level crimes, and they usually come voluntarily. We work also with young people who might be struggling with mental health, abuse, people removed from their parents, or isolated. 

“Other programs support women in the criminal justice system or dealing with domestic abuse, mental health issues, and also military members with PTSD. This is about setting little goals towards confidence through these wilderness journeys all the year round. 

Forest Bathing

“One of the benefits of Forest Bathing is that it is a much more kind or light mindful experience because in the wilderness experience people tend to be always doing. It is a lot of fun but maybe they don’t have much time for mindfulness and reflection. They do it at different times and have personal development sessions but Forest Bathing is a much more structured way of doing that. 

“For certain people it would be more appropriate to do a 30 minute activity, to have one experience of a Forest Bathing session once a day, for half an hour or one hour. It depends on the group really”. 

Rosie works with William Glasser’s Choice Theory, an outdoor education-based approach to personal development. Focusing on the need of self worth and love and belonging, to improve people’s connection with healthier networks.  

She is also running one-on-one Forest Bathing walks after her patients journey, to remind them about the benefits of nature and not focusing that much on just doing but on being: 

“Spending not all the time talking and planning but being peaceful and mindful. People say things like ‘why the time felt so different’ and then start to include it in their routine. 

“The immersive structure of Forest Bathing is very beneficial for people to sooth and ground, to have a spot to ground and stay. It also may allow more and deeper reflections in the group safe space that grows during the camps.  

“When they come back is like the best part of my job because they are happy, they have more confidence, they feel more focused, they had the chance to have the experience of leading a game or a meeting… They also get a document with their positive progress throughout the week, which is very important. 

The training 

“Learning the Forest Bathing Guide training gives me an even greater skill-set to help vulnerable people in the community benefit from a slow mindful nature connection practice. 

“During FTHub’s Forest Bathing Guide training, I enjoyed learning the benefits of the forest but I also noticed I rush a lot, and the act of walking slowly and letting your nervous system know that nothing dangerous is going to happen, because no fight or flight is being activated, it made sense to me. I loved meeting people from other paths, from all over the world, and prioritizing myself, having my own nature-based wellbeing plan.

“I’ve met Caitlin (Keddie, UK based trainer and mentor in FTHub) in her Forest Bathing session and it helped me to have my own nature connection and to feel more comfortable guiding. It pushed me out of my own comfort zone.

“I worked with social prescribing and I’m returning to the NHS, where I think there is a lot of space for working with nature. Community gardens, hospital gardens for Forest Bathing, and though it would take some time, there is a lot of space to do it. I think I could just definitely do it for staff, staff in burn out, they definitely need it”.  

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