The Path to Recovery Nature Trail follows a stream through evergreen Oaks that reach heights of 82 feet and live for over 250 years. The trail is nestled within 200 acres of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, which contains more than 1,000 plant species that provide a habitat for over 500 animal species including deer, hawks, falcons and eagles. Plant communities vary from coastal sage scrub, oak and walnut woodlands to riparian vegetation with native California trees in the deep canyons filled with lilac, mountain mahogany, sages and endangered manzanita species.
The group combines integral aspects of ecopsychology and ecotherapy in that healing and growth are nurtured by removing both psychotherapy and the individual from the interior of buildings in order to utilize the outdoor natural environment for physical and psychological healing. The power of nature in helping people recover and heal from a vast range of ailments has been known for thousands of years. In ancient times, physicians who tended to royalty prescribed walks in nature to alleviate mental health problems. Spending time in a tranquil, beautiful setting has been proven to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, instill a deeper connection with nature, reduce stress and enhance a sense of wellbeing.
The visual aesthetics of nature are known to elicit feelings of inner peace, which lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, increase immunity and generate positive emotions. Using the natural environment as a therapeutic group setting is a time-tested form of treatment designed to effectively help individuals recover from illness, rehabilitate from addiction, reduce psychiatric symptoms and improve quality of life.