Nature-inspired therapeutic approaches – New research agenda setting process in Hungary

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At ESSRG in the frame of the InSPIRES project, our overall objective is to generate dialogue among the relevant sectors and prepare a novel research agenda on green care services, therapeutic approaches which integrate the power of nature. In Western and Northern Europe green care is an emerging sector, whereas, in Hungary, this concept is nearly unknown. Interestingly, some health and social care providers have already been offering this kind of services.

At the first stage of the research agenda-setting process, we attempted to map those Hungarian initiatives, organisations and experts who apply alternative, green care services to people who struggle with mental health challenges. We have been conducting semi-structured interviews with several knowledge holders. During this process, we found unique initiatives, for instance, an expert in psychopedagogy who developed a connection-centred animal-assisted therapy, a clinical psychologist who invented herding-therapy or a group of professional cavers who have been holding cave therapy sessions to children with special needs for almost 20 years. In parallel, we have been organising Science Cafés to introduce these initiatives to a broader audience, to identify further relevant stakeholders and to initiate dialogue around research needs in a participatory way.

In January we organised our first Science Café discussion. More than 40 participants listened to the psychologist Noémi Pieke’s thought-provoking lecture about her connection-centred animal-assisted therapeutic method. Noémi highlighted the differences between the traditional animal-assisted therapy and her approach, then described the way how she works with the establishing relationship between her clients (mostly children with Asperger’s syndrome) and her therapeutic animals.

The presentation followed by discussion. The audience was interested in the process of choosing and preparing animals for therapeutic work, the ongoing psychological dynamics during the sessions and the dog and small animal therapist training led by Noémi and her colleague Hadassa Jakabos (who was our guest at our second event in February).

Here you can watch a short video about the event: