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Project NatureConnect
Institute of Global Education

Reconnecting With Nature Personal Healing and Balance Course
Stress-management nature course for healing depression, mood disorders and fatigue.
P. O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
360-378-6313 www.ecopsych.com nature@interisland.net

Course Details



Reconnecting With Nature: The Organic Psychology Elements of Global Citizenship: a friendship-building stress-management course for healing depression, mood disorders and fatigue while strengthening relationships with self, society and nature.


A ten-week, distance learning interactive course

  • Get back on track by getting back to nature:
  • Learn how to think and feel in synch with the balancing energies of the Web of Life.
  • Tap into the regenerative powers of nature's healing ways.
  • Let your love of nature increase your self-esteem



This ten-week stress-management and mood improvement course uses nature as a teacher, a counselor and a friend. It encourages us to slow down and re-orient ourselves to the grace and wisdom of nature's creative and nurturing healing process. Course members read assigned material, do NatureConnect activities and share their experiences with others in their group through email exchanges.


The course helps us establish personal well-being, increases connectedness with nature and with others, and enhances education, counseling and leadership skills. Discover how to cooperatively reconnect your reasoning and senses to their nurturing origins in nature's restorative vigor, intelligence and peace.

"Here's good advice for practice: go into partnership with nature; she does more than half the work and asks none of the fee."

--Martin H. Fischer (1879-1962)

Course Details



Help yourself restore some balance and harmony back into your life through nature's integrity.

The exceptional process of this course in balanced thinking helps you strengthen your connection to the recuperative and regenerative healing powers of nature. They are powers that serve us individually in our yearning for meaning and connection; they also serve our communal need for both global and local cooperation and consensus. These are powers that we are born knowing, but all too easily learn to forget as our indoor lives rob us of our outdoor affinities and affirmations.

"The major opportunity for the intensification of consciousness lies in nature....Once we lose touch with nature, our society loses its values, its purpose."

--Daniel Luten, Sierra Club Bulletin, 1964

Course Details



Author: Barb Huning

From his many years of experience as a nature-connected educator, counselor, and passionate innovator, Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D. has developed an organic way of using the electronic Web to regain what technology so effectively deprives us of--our natural lives in the natural world. By sharing online with four to six like-minded others for ten weeks of reflection, nature experience, sharing and responding, his powerful nature-connecting tool helps you restore your senses (all 53 of them), including your common sense and your inherent sense of well-being. These ten weeks include structured reading and online activity as well as contact-with-nature "homework" outside your home.

This online course is facilitated by the co-authors of The Web of Life Imperative, and graduates of the eco-psychology training courses that Cohen originated 20 years ago and continues to administer through Project NatureConnect at the Institute of Global Education, a special NGO consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

In his more than 50 years of experience--academic and otherwise--Cohen has developed creative and effective ways to link people to themselves, to others, and to nature through the webstrings of natural attraction. Webstrings are actual fact--even if they are not always visible--and they encompass far more than our well-recited five senses. For example: thirst is a webstring, so is hunger, and so are belonging, community and trust. They link our awareness to hidden aspects of ourselves and to each other, even as they link us to nature. They weave us into the fabric of life; they work continuously to create the future--for us and all other species of plant, animal and mineral life.

We are born into the web. Yet much of our lives is spent breaking, injuring, ignoring and discounting the webstrings of creativity inherent in all of life. And as we injure the web of this world, we injure ourselves. A psychological emptiness sets in and we begin
to look further and further astray to find meaning. Our "time" becomes meaningless if not filled with attaining and accomplishing.

As we get more and more disconnected from our natural webstring attractions, we get more and more obsessed with unnatural, often-destructive attractions. We become addicted to acquiring more and bigger of everything--which results in a damaged environment, an exploited humanity and a greater and greater sense of meaninglessness. As Cohen writes in "The Web of Life Imperative:" "We want, emotionally and materially, and when we want, there is never enough. We become greedy, stressed and reckless as we try to gain substitutes for webstring fulfillment. This places Earth, others and ourselves at risk."

Cohen does not simplify his approach with a "back to nature" flourish. He advocates that we grow up and move forward--with Nature as a teacher and a co-creating partner. He sees in nature's regenerative and waste-less grace a model of health and healing for humanity. A model that satisfies our spiritual yearnings as well as our earthly needs--without exploiting either people or planet.

"One way to be rich is to not want anything."

--Kenneth E. Boulding

Course Details


Our ancient, instinctive brain, with its synapses all set for survival, has insured our development as a species for millions of years. It linked us inextricably to nature--for our food, the means of shelter and transportation as well as to the resources for communication, celebration and meaning-making. Nothing whatsoever happened without nature's involvement. The more recently evolved part of our brain, on the other hand, has been stringently trained to be the creator of everything that's artificial--from computers to cars to all the other conveniences and luxuries of these times. It relies only upon itself; and is actually rewarded not to rely upon nature.

This presents us with a huge and challenging rift in our consciousness. Our ancient connectedness to nature is undermined by the conditioning of our new brain and its sophisticated, insular, indoor prowess. Even as we go outside to nature for much-needed recreation and restoration, the new brain remains active and often keeps us separated from nature's fullness. We rarely bring our old brain with us back indoors to help us with our life challenges and experiences. We literally check nature at the door, in effect, closing ourselves off to that which has served us with the deepest of meaning--our instinctual sense of belonging. We spend more than ninety-nine percent of our lives defined by indoor, disconnected thinking. And our healing processes, too, are closed off from the inspiring, invigorating and inexhaustible grace of nature. Our new brain is useful--it knows new things. But it is our old brain that feels and recognizes the webstrings that attach us to deep belonging and interdependence with all of life. A balance between the two is nature's path.

Mike Cohen illustrates this with a simple, not-so-simple story. We are asked to answer the following mathematical apptitude question: If a tail of a normal dog is counted as one of its legs, how many legs does a dog have? Our excellently trained new brain mathematically responds quickly and accurately, "Five, of course." However, our old brain, well versed in it's old wisdom has to struggle to be heard: "Ridiculous, a dog only has four legs no matter what." Both answers are right. Yet because of the conditioned dominance of the new brain in defining our worldly experiences, the old brain's perceptions--of that which is organically true--get lost within the hypothetical and abstract. Useful, perhaps, in developing mathematicians and internet technology, but not so useful in creating fundamental, grounded well-being and ontological trust in the nature of all things.


"Nature is an ever-present power of recuperation."

--Richard E. Dodge in a 1915 Journal of Geography.


Progress has brought us vast knowledge and ever-increasing anxiety. Depression, suicide rates among our young people, drug use (licit and otherwise), alcoholism, anxiety disorders and immune distress are at an all-time high. There is an epidemic of consumer-based behavior that emphasizes self-worth based on material worth. Yet satisfying the craving for consumption with more consumption brings greater and greater dis-ease. Only by re-connecting to our old brain's recognition of the inherent nature-based webstrings of belonging do we find the ever-renewing deep sense of security that leads to a deep sense of peace. It's instinctive. Yet because of our excessive indoor lives, indoor values, indoor thinking and indoor sensibilities, we fall prey to the limited perceptions of the indoor-mind. Only by restoring our relationship to our old nature-based instincts and interdependence can we bring a natural nurturing balance to our experience.

"There is an endless strength when we lie back upon nature and hush our hearts."

--Alan Devoe, Audubon, 1946

Yes, when a dog's tail is counted as a leg, a dog has five legs. Yes, a dog only has four legs. When we use nine-legged thinking and combine both sources of knowledge we cherish both realities in healthy balance. This is what Project NatureConnect's Personal Balance Course is all about. It helps restore fundamental well-being and brings natural solutions to the unnatural difficulties we face in our lives. It respects, nurtures and celebrates the wisdom of old thinking and the innovation of new thinking. It partners progress--individual and societal--with the inherent meaningfulness and the restorative powers found in our organic and biological history.

Course Details


This personal course in self-healing and self-awareness is designed to help regain the vital web-link to the richness of inner nature as well as to the beauty of our interdependence on outer nature. It is a course in which nature's beauty, fairness and wisdom do the teaching. There are no wrong answers and no "constructive criticism." It is a course that reflects the way nature works--through nurturing interdependence, awareness, and appreciation of one another as part of nature. It reinforces our natural creativity, our uniqueness, our connectedness, and our deepest capabilities to heal the stress right out of our lives. It gives us the tools to become our own best therapist. And if we are in the healing professions, it has a dramatic and strengthening impact on the counseling process.

"Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her."

--William Wordsworth

Each week is structured with nature-connect activities, reflective time, personal writing, shared writing and responsive writing. This is not a course about "good writing;" it's about honest exchanges based on the attractions that each person feels as they do the exercises and exchange nature experiences with one another. Each week has a theme and participants agree on the schedule that best supports each group.

The two books used, Reconnecting With Nature and The Web of Life Imperative, complement each other and serve two different purposes. Reconnecting With Nature is a reflection of our natural attractions; it's narrative style informs us as it inspires us. The Web of Life Imperative is a workbook; it presents a scientific model for us, first of all, to think about-and second of all, to apply to our thinking/sensing relationships in our lives. Weekly on-line instructions and supplementary material give in-depth direction to group members. It is a process that reinforces healthy, sustaining and creative relationship with self and other and is based on many years of successful and effective use in Project NatureConnect's academic course material. (Click here to read testimony from NatureConnect participants.)

"Nature resolves everything into its component elements, but annihilates nothing."

--Lucretius (c.100-c. 55 B.C.)

Course Details


Once the group of 4-6 people has been established, it takes on a nature name and each person receives the names & email addresses of the members. Four roles are assigned to participants to insure an effective and supportive group process: Group Consciousness Supporter, Participation Supporter, Agenda Supporter and Coordination Supporter. These roles can be assigned to individuals or shared. There are also two course co-facilitators from Project NatureConnect who observe the unfolding process and occasionally comment and participate-but peripherally.

Confidentiality is essential and participants are asked to keep the process private within the group and not to share email addresses.

The course self-organizes itself the way nature does-through natural webstring attractions. Everything, therefore, depends upon all group members having their needs met as the group develops and explores its own nature.

The course takes ten weeks and each week focuses on a particular area. There's emphasis on sleep and dreams as well as on writing and activities. There is a suggested schedule for each week and this can be adjusted accordingly to satisfy individual needs. There is, however, a carefully thought out and time-proven protocol for interacting within the group.

The exchange of emails is a foundation of the course. They convey the spirit and sustenance that each member experiences through nature. This safe sharing bonds the group, creates trust, and becomes a reflection of the interdependence we have with one another and with all of nature. It reinforces nature-connected thinking and the webstrings of relationship that optimize learning and belonging.

(The logic and logistics of the online process is carefully detailed in Appendix C, The Online Course Instruction in the Web of Life Imperative.)


"The course made a difference in the quality of my life, a huge difference. I am enjoying inexplicable peace which bubbles over to others (without much explanation!) Every day is a new dawn for me to see nature, to Attach, Connect and Express or just be an example to others. This course is needed for all humans to get globally reconnected. It empowers a person to assist in their own mental and physical healing capabilities." -Teresa V.

"I know that I will never be able to deny my need to reconnect with nature again. I can feel that the shift in my perception -from nature as someplace I would like to be if I could find the time - to nature as a critical part of who I am- has changed the course the rest of my life will take." -Larry D.


See additional Testimonials and Outcomes of the course to better understand its benefits.


"The greatest beauty is organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe."

--Robinson Jeffers



$285 includes four books needed to complete Certification, supplementary email material and all aspects of the guided ten-week Project NatureConnect Personal Balance Course. If you decide to continue on with academic, professional or personal training in this work, you can apply all of the course fee to study in the Certification or Degree programs. Three CEU credit/clock-hours are available

Special NGO consultant United Nations Economic and Social Council


Readily available, online, natural science tools
for the health of person, planet and spirit

P.O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
360-378-6313 <email> www.ecopsych.com

The Natural Systems Thinking Process

Dr. Michael J. Cohen, Director

send email

All programs start with the Orientation Course contained in the book
The Web of Life Imperative.



Related Articles and Letters


Nature's Grace Provides a Loving Answer to Hopes, Prayers and Dreams.

Dear Editor

The lack of peace, sustainable economics, trust, social justice and personal and environmental wellness alarmed me. I sought and finally found a tool that transformed my depressing stress and anxiety into responsible stability. I thought I was stressed because the more I became aware of the destructive things happening to Earth and to people and places I loved, including myself, the greater became my lack of hope and feeling either mad, sad or depression. This divorced me from both my spirit and partner. I felt anger with God and beauty, a fear and disrespect of God for letting so much war, suffering and environmental deterioration occur that I was powerless to change. In time, I became aware that I was in denial. I denied that I, like many others, had an addiction to immediate rewards from my dysfunctions. The robbed me of the resilience to tolerate what I could not change. In fear, I came upon the description, on this page, of an amazing book and course. In depression, I only paid attention to it because it received super positive reviews from many conferences, spiritualities and publications that I respected, especially Psychology Today, Humanistic Psychology and the Journal of Environmental Education. In retrospect, it was a love answer from nature's grace and beauty to my hopes, prayers and dreams.

Mr. Editor, Does this make sense to you? Isn't it something your readers can benefit from?


Organic Personal Growth and Self-Improvement

The Organic Psychology Revolution: A Sensory Education and Counseling Tool Strengthens Holistic Health, Sanity and Sustainability

Contemporary society has taught us to be experts in conquering nature, including the balanced ways of our natural self and its love of nature. The result: because we don't protect what we don't love, nature, our collective sustainability and our personal wellness suffer. To stop this insanity Organic Psychology makes readily available the means to genuinely connect our thinking and feeling to Mother Nature's recuperative powers, perfection and love of us as her children. Using the Internet as a learning tool, we tap our psyche into nature's beautiful sane and balanced web of life that produces an optimum of diversity and benefits without producing garbage, a web some people call God (www.ecopsych.com).

Although we are part of nature, we are normally educated to spend, on average, over 95 percent of our time and 99 percent of our lives thinking and feeling while separated from nature's grace, beauty, and restorative powers. Our mentality's profound loss of nature divorces us into apathy through denial. We deny that we are rewarded for fearing and exploiting, rather than embracing, the supportive ways of our planetary mother and her kingdoms. We deny that we are psychologically addicted to nature-disconnected thinking that creates our personal, social and environmental dysfunctions.

Through easily learned, nature-connected Organic Psychology methods and materials, the Internet makes it possible for any individual, or 600 million people, to think in ways that invigorate resiliency and spirit and that reduce our addictive trespasses, denial and apathy. By genuinely reconnecting our thinking to natural systems we rejuvenate and trust more than forty-five natural senses that have been numbed out of our consciousness by our extreme disconnection from nature. The renewal of these senses increases our sensitivity, sensibility and love energies. This ecopsychology helps unbalanced parts of our minds and hearts benefit from nature's ability to rejuvenate and balance itself, including us, for we are part of nature. We reduce our stress, depression and abusiveness. We transform our apathy into constructive participation. Backyard to back country,-we strengthen our life, our organizations and global society.


The Great Challenge

"Our body, mind, spirit and ability to love come into the world through nature. They are part of nature's beautiful perfection, wisdom and restorative powers. However, the extreme disconnection of our thinking from nature injures these attributes. Like tearing a leg from a live rabbit, we wound and damage our ability to think clearly. Its dysfunction deteriorates our wellness, our destiny and the environment.

Our bonding and denial present us with great challenges. To replace our lost gratifications from nature, our socialization rewards our disturbed psyche to attach or addict to contemporary ways along with their destructive side effects. Our greatest challenge is that we learn to deny that the means is available to reconnect our thinking with nature's regenerative powers and thereby co-create ourselves and the world in a peaceful balance that eliminates these side effects."

- Michael J. Cohen


Mood Disorders: Are You Suffering from Denial of Your Separation from Nature?

  Excessive separation from nature produces the discomforts of fatigue, apathy, stress, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, anger, mood swings, mistrust, loneliness, broken relationships, destructive dependencies and sleep, eating, learning and attention disorders
1. Contemporary society and its citizens are in denial. We are aware that we are part of nature and that although we are disconnected from nature, we deny that this separation bears ill effects upon our physical or mental health. We are also in denial if we know our separation from nature is producing destructive personal, social and environmental disorders but we don't use readily available nature-reconnecting tools to help us treat these disorders.

2. Because we are members of a nature-disconnected society in denial, we are psychologically bonded to our society's ways and we each suffer from and perpetuate the dysfunctions, insanity and discontents of our society.

3. Many people display mood disorder symptoms or other discontents that are not normally found in nature-connected people. These individuals are usually in denial that they suffer because they are, or have been, excessively separated from nature and its regenerative healing and restorative powers. The symptoms these individuals endure include the discomforts of fatigue, apathy, stress, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, anger, mood swings, mistrust, loneliness, broken relationships, destructive dependencies and sleep, eating, learning and attention disorders.

4. Contemporary society consciously and subconsciously socializes us to believe that nature is an enemy to overcome, conquer or develop.

  - We are in denial that we mistakenly consider it progress and economically sound to subdue natural systems within and around us and thereby lose the resilience and immunity provided by the recuperative powers of these systems.

- We deny that if disconnection from nature produces discontents, that authentic reconnecting with nature enables nature's renewing powers to help us transform our discontents into happier, more reasonable, ways of being and relating.

- We deny that nature-reconnecting tools are readily available to us and that we that can use them to help ourselves reverse our disorders.

5. An individual that only addresses their personal dysfunctions without addressing the nature-disconnected roots of these dysfunctions too often furthers their and our problems as time passes.


The Nature Of It All. How Do We Belong and Heal?


"Ishi, (the last hunter-gather Native American) was sure he knew the cause of our discontent. It stemmed from an excessive amount of indoor time. 'It is not a man's nature to be too much indoors.'"

- Theodora Kroeber

"It is quite clear to me after several years in the environmental movement that all physical problems of man's impact on the environment - pollution of the air and waters, the desecration of the land, the contamination of the food chain - all start within the environment of man's mind."

- Maurice Strong,
Founder or the United Nations Environment Program,
Co--chair of the Commission on Global Governance,

Because we live in a nature-separated society, we seldom learn that it is the personal and collective relationship of our mind with nature that determines our sanity, our future and the future of the earth. Much has been written about how we need to help the planet regenerate itself. Too often we overlook that restoring it is the lasting means to improve the environment of our mind, our wellness and our destiny.

How conscious are we about the interactions of our mentality with the natural world? How do we passionately incorporate nature's intrinsic health and recuperative powers into our sense of self, other and livelihood? Do we acknowledge this deep and penetrating partnership in a renewable path to sustainability that serves people, the environment and peace?

These are compelling questions for us as our society is in denial of our mentality's relationship with nature and we face a most precarious future.

We Lose What We Most Love
As nature's resources are diminished so is the quality of our lives as part of nature. As the quality of our lives diminish, we become desensitized and fearful. We further lose touch with our natural ability to connect to the web of life within which we are so intricately bound. It becomes a cycle of loss. The nurturing link between our human lives and our earthly home gets broken. We are driven to seek more and more satisfaction in the material world, which means we consume more and more of the resources we need to sustain natural world and our inborn love of it. We get further and further away from our innate sense of meaning and being. We lose what we most love-about ourselves, the world to which we belong and our sense of the sacred in everyday life.

Nature's Saving Grace
In these difficult times, we are virtually on the edge of losing our ability to save both ourselves-and our earthly home. Yet the saving grace is simple: We will save what we love. And when we learn how to stop long enough to genuinely reconnect to the nurturing sustenance of nature, we emotionally reconnect to what is most deeply satisfying in our human experience-belonging. We re-learn to love the very essence of who we are as living breathing perfect beings on a living breathing perfect planet. It is a generative partnership that happens when we reawaken and enliven all our senses with the awareness of nature's grace, intelligence and sustenance. We find and feel that we, too, are part of the very grace and intelligence we celebrate in nature. We belong. Because this reconnecting process is often foreign to contemporary life, an enabling tool has been devised to help us engage in the process.

Restoring Our Sensory Connections To Nature's Renewing Powers.
Project NatureConnect, a pioneering process in environmental psychology and education, has developed an ecopsychology program that is first of all committed to helping us-as individuals-restore our connection to our place in nature's transcending grace. Then, through its sensory nature-connecting, ecotherapy activities, we learn how to genuinely unite our thinking to the web of life that is always around us, always nurturing us, always waiting to help us wake up. We help ourselves bond to living in awareness and equilibrium with nature, in hope and in love. Living in that organic awareness we create a lasting future for our loved ones and for our extended human and ecological family.

The Organic Science of Nature's Regenerative Ways.
Backyard or back country, the idea and goal of Project NatureConnect is special because it is doable by choice. It offers a web of possibilities-for everything from personal growth, stress management and depression recovery to professional gain. It is based on the NatureConnect work developed by Michael J. Cohen over a span of 50 years of studying, teaching, writing about and experiencing the regenerative power of our natural experience in the natural world. His work is a science and an art, the result of decades of practice working with communities of people in natural areas, all culminating in a process that helps us recover what it is we have forgotten, what it is we love, what it is we can save. (www.ecopsych.com)

Healing Our Relationships
It is time for us to come out from behind the addictive socializing and economic forces that keep the environment of our mind disconnected from the Earth and each other. It is time to re-learn how to let the wisdom and renewing energies of nature transform our destructive patterns into balanced and loving relationships that can help restore both personal worth and global harmony.

  "The indescribable innocence and beneficence of Nature-of sun and wind and rain, of summer and winter-such health, such cheer, they afford forever!"
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

- by Janet Thomas