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Outdoor retreats activate self-healing powers | Magazine Article

[published in the magazine "Die Naturheilkunde" 6-2023]

Digital overload, global multi-crises, anxiety: more and more people in Germany are feeling mentally stressed or becoming mentally ill. In metropolitan areas in particular, many feel overwhelmed by the constant sensory overload and negative environmental influences, such as noise and fast-paced life - and lose contact with themselves as a result. Nature as a space for healing and regeneration should help to restore the resilience and clarity that is lacking. It has been proven that people are more relaxed, more present and more mindful outdoors, as shown by trends such as forest bathing. However, the retreats go much deeper into the experience of nature. At its core, Systemic Nature Therapy is about addressing all three levels of the body, the psyche and the soul.

Alongside psychoanalysis and behavioral therapy, the Systemic approach is the most widespread therapy and counseling approach and perceives people as individuals in an interconnected system. In the context of nature therapy, it means that people interact not only in social contexts, but also with the environment around them. In particular, the natural environment has an intensive effect on people's thoughts, actions and feelings, according to the basic premise of Systemic Nature Therapy, the founder of which is the Austrian psychotherapist Astrid Habiba Kreszmeier.

The dialog with nature can take place on several levels - just as nature also expresses itself in different facets. On a physical level, it is about concrete contact and the sensory perception of the surroundings. Psychologically, this physical contact can trigger complex thoughts and feelings. This impact also has an effect on mental health. Traditional healing knowledge is combined with contemporary forms of psychotherapy and counseling. This form of therapy therefore goes beyond the purely linguistic and intellectual level.

From the comfort zone to the great outdoors

The Systemic Nature Therapy retreats are all about getting out of the comfort zone! The group constantly switches between natural and cultural spaces. At least a few of the overnight stays take place outside without a tent - only with a tarp for protection.

A fire is made to cook on and to gather around for fire circle dialogues. In addition to these fixed components, the days of the retreat consist of a situationally and intuitively appropriate program of group exercises and 1:1 support. These include nature experiences, creative techniques, metaphorical work, movement practices, breathwork, meditation and embodiment. Everything is interwoven in a free, action- and experience-oriented way in an open process. It is about coming back to the original, slowing down, remembering and connecting. In this way, the participants come into contact with an awareness of their own body and also with what wants to be seen, be it psychologically or emotionally.

Individuals, communities, teams and organizations are accompanied; people who lack contact with nature in their everyday lives, which particularly affects city dwellers, or people who want to (re)connect with nature and themselves. For many, it is also about slowing down, getting closer to nature and experiencing this connection more strongly. The aim is to activate the powers of self-organization and healing, to discover existing resources and to strengthen the sense of belonging. It is an emotional experience in which you can surpass yourself. Participants are reminded that they themselves are a part of the nature that surrounds them.

Olivia Köhler is a certified Systemic Nature Therapist, Nature Dialog facilitator and management consultant living in Berlin and Spain. Being outdoors plays an important role in the life of this economics graduate. That's why Olivia wants to create a space where people can explore their connection with natural spaces and reconnect with themselves. Since 2020, she has been offering regular retreats with Kailo Nature Therapy in Greece, Egypt and Brandenburg. For inner and outer connection with nature.


Connect with your outer and inner nature at one of my events and retreats or dive deeper in a 1:1 guidance.

  • Claßen T, Bunz M: Einfluss von Naturräumen auf die Gesundheit – Evidenzlage und Konsequenzen für Wissenschaft und Praxis. Bundesgesundheitsbl 2018: 61, 720–728

  • Stangl W: Naturtherapie. Online Lexikon für Psychologie & Pädagogik 2023;


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