Nature Therapy Activity for Protection, Safety, and Growth: Tree Bark

Jenny McNees holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Alabama, an M.S.W. from Alabama A&M University, and soon will hold certification as a Nature Therapy Guide. She has worked in the mental health field for the past 21 years, most recently in the medical social work setting, where she helps patients with chronic disease. A nature lover since she could walk, she recalls hikes in the Smoky Mountains with her father and grandfather from a very early age. Most recently, she enjoys caving the plentiful limestone caves in  North Alabama. She plans to incorporate Nature Therapy into her daily practice with patients as well as offer it to anyone in the community and North Alabama area. She created this wonderful sensory nature activity as part of her certification. Check out her Facebook page, Nature 360 Alabama, to keep up with her adventures!

Today’s theme will focus on protection and security, as well as growth.

We often need tangible things to help us feel protected and safe. Once we feel secure, we can often allow ourselves to learn more and broaden our horizons. When we feel safe, we can often experience growth in our spirituality or personal relationships. Today, we will focus on tree bark as an example of how nature protects trees and helps them grow.

Look around at types of trees around you, and find several species that have different types of bark. Discover how these types of bark vary by tree. Pick one that you particularly find soothing or comforting, and allow yourself to look at it deeply to discover how it is formed in the best way to protect the tree from harmful elements of nature.

Bark is a tree’s skin; it functions just like human skin. Allow yourself to move your fingers and hands over the bark. Is it smooth or hard, sharp, or bumpy? Bark sometimes will have layers–similar to how humans build up defenses to protect ourselves. Imagine how long the bark has been protecting the tree. As you glance upward at its branches and canopy, consider how the bark has enabled the tree to be protected and grow over time. Bark has to be strong in order to produce a strong tree. The tree would perish if not for the bark.

Bark has to be strong in order to produce a strong tree.

Think about the many ways that you feel protected, how safe you would feel if you were this magnificent tree. Imagine putting on your own layer of bark to feel safe and calm. Now, take a deep breath as you enjoy the scent of the healthy trees and leaves around you.

© Jenny McNees

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