The Tree Is My Anchor: A Pilot Study on the Treatment of BED through Nature-Based Therapy

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Nov 8;15(11):2486. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15112486.


Binge eating disorder (BED), characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating with a subjective experience of lack of control, is the world's most common eating disorder. The aim of the present pilot study was to examine the feasibility of implementing nature-based therapy (NBT) in the treatment of BED. The NBT intervention was compared to Support Group Meetings (SGMs), which are the only publicly available form of support for people diagnosed with BED in Denmark. Twenty participants with a BED diagnosis were included in the study, which had a mixed-methods design including Eating Disorder Examination interviews, semi-structured interviews, and questionnaires measuring well-being (The Psychological General Well-Being Index) and self-esteem (Rosenberg's Self-Esteem Scale). Both the NBT and the SGMs showed positive results on all outcome measures (decreases in binge eating episodes and increases in general psychological well-being and self-esteem). The interviews indicated that the NBT context made the psychotherapeutic content more accessible to the participants and further helped them transfer the therapeutic gains to daily life after completing treatment. However, these results should be interpreted with caution due to the small sample size-ideally, they would need to be tested on a larger, randomized sample.

Keywords: acceptance and commitment therapy; binge eating; eating disorder; eating disorder examination; health design; health-promoting natural environments; psychological general well-being; therapy garden.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binge-Eating Disorder / therapy*
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nature
  • Pilot Projects
  • Research Design
  • Self Concept
  • Self-Help Groups
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trees*