Nature, Intimacy, Emotions, Connection

I am a Nature Allied Psychotherapist (M.A., MBACP) and Ethnographer who teaches natural history and woodland living skills. My work explores relationships with people and with nature.

As a therapist I work exclusively in natural settings, working in allegiance with nature to explore our emotional worlds. I have theorised our relationships with nature from an applied psychotherapeutic perspective, developing Nature Allied Psychotherapy as a modality of practice for ongoing client work. I’m currently writing Nature Allied Psychotherapy: Exploring Relationships with our Self, Others and Nature to be published by Routledge. I provide professional training for psychotherapists and well-being professionals on the therapeutic use of nature through the Nature Therapy School.

As a naturalist and bushcraft practitioner I have an interest in traditional ecological knowledge and ethnopsychology. I have a life long passion for nature stemming from a rural upbringing. I’m happiest in the woods, listening to the nuthatch and the crackle of the fire, absorbing all that is going on around me. I love sharing an ancestral gaze for perceiving the world around us, some favourite ways of being include natural navigation, forgaing, tracking and basketry. I have experience of wilderness living in Scotland and Sweden. I have a certificate in Advanced Wilderness First Aid.

In 2013 I Founded Wild in the City, an organisation supporting the well-being of urban residents offering experiences in woodland living skills, natural history and ecotherapy; using the skills of our ancestors to nurture a deeper connection with the natural world and a sense of belonging to communities past and present.

I have a particular interest in supporting people of colour in finding our place in UK natural settings. I work to create opportunities for the representation of black leadership in nature. I have been one of the first researchers to undertake an in-depth study of people of colours’ relationship with nature in the UK. My work has produced ethnographies of our intimate, emotional relationships with nature. This includes ethnography of disconnection and it’s impact on the development of cultural attitudes which shun nature; people of colours’ relationships with nature in UK settings and white attitudes to black presence in nature.

I regularly speak at conferences and seminars on nature and well-being, from psychotherapeutic and anthropological perspectives including recent presentations at the Smithsonian, Tate Modern, Association of Social Anthropologists and Friends of the Earth.

My practice and research has been featured in BBC’s Cities: Nature’s New Wild, Ep3 Outcasts, BBC Countryfile, BBC London News, NBC’s Today, BBC London Radio, ITV Lorraine and MTV Timberland Presents Concrete Green with Loyle Carner. I host the Black Nature Narratives podcast; exploring black perspectives on issues relating to the natural world and our relationship with nature.

I’m a Fellow of the National Association for Environmental Education and a Fellow of the London Environmental Educators Forum and a member of the teaching team at the Wellbeing Faculty of the Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education. I am a member of Natural England’s Nature Recovery Network management group. I’m a proud mentor within FORWARD’s Tuwezeshe Fellowship, supporting young women leaders of African descent working on gender based violence. I was formerly a Trustee of the National Park City Foundation (2017-2020).

I have more than 18 years research experience within psychological health and human rights. I worked in the human rights field for over 15 years, during which time I was commissioned by UNHCR as an International Expert on gender based persecution and was Director of a research consultancy documenting human rights conditions in refugee producing countries. I was previously Research and Policy Manager at the Mental Health Providers Forum (now Association of Mental Health Providers). I have degrees in Comparative Religion & Social Anthropology (Joint hons. BA, Manchester), Human Rights (MA, Essex) and Psychotherapy (MA, UEL).

My publications include:

Kalathil, J., Collier, B. et al, Recovery and Resilience: African, African Caribbean and South Asian Women’s Narratives of Recovering from Mental Distress, London, 2011, Mental Health Foundation and Survivor Research

Collier, B, Country of Origin Information and Women; Researching Gender and Persecution within the Context of Asylum and Human Rights Claims, London, 2007, Asylum Aid