SYSTEMATIC REVIEW


New Perspectives in Psychopathology and Psychological Well-being by Using Forest Therapy: A Systematic Review



Pasquale Caponnetto1, Lucio Inguscio2, *, Sergio Triscari1, Mirko Casu1, Alessandra Ferrante1, Dario Cocuzza1, Marilena Maria Maglia1
1 Department of Educational Sciences, Section of Psychology, University of Catania, Catania 95123, Italy
2 Department of Dynamic, Clinical Psychology and Health Studies, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Rome 00185, Italy


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Creative Commons License
© 2022 Caponnetto et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Dynamic, Clinical Psychology and Health Studies, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Rome 00185, Italy; E-mail: p.caponnetto@unict.it


Abstract

Background:

Forest therapy is the clinical application of Shinrin-Yoku, also known as forest bathing. Specifically, the term Shinrin-Yoku refers to what is known as “a bath in the air of the forest”, which is carried out by walking and observing the landscapes of nature. In recent years, ecopsychology has become increasingly interested in the use of forest therapy as a credible, eco-sustainable, and easily adaptable treatment. The idea is to borrow the typical techniques of mindfulness and apply them to environmental contexts to verify if this leads to a better physical and mental well-being of the individual. Given the few contexts in which forest therapy is applied, this article aims to investigate, through a review of available literature, the applications of forest therapy existing in various severe or mild disorders in order to understand if this technique can represent a credible alternative to traditional treatments, and consequently arouse the interest of future experimental research in different contexts.

Methods:

A systematic review was conducted using the PRISMA 2020 guidelines that allowed us to identify n = 7 unique papers to be included in our analysis.

Results:

Forest therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for improving a range of psychological and physiological parameters in college students, the elderly, women with postmenopausal insomnia, patients with alcoholism syndrome, patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), patients with chronic widespread pain, and psychiatric patients.

Conclusion:

The analyzed studies are not yet able to tell us if forest therapy is better than traditional treatments. However, the effectiveness demonstrated in the studies provides empirical evidence of the credibility of forest therapy and leads to new scenarios for more eco-sustainable, versatile, affordable, and adaptable therapies according to the needs of the patients.

Keywords: Forest therapy, Shinrin-Yoku, Mental health, Ecopsychology, Mindfulness, Forest bathing.