Ecopsychology course back online – Special Summer Offer!

Special Summer Offer: enrol before 30th of June 2017 and receive a 20% discount
(just enter the discount code ’30JUNE17′ when you check out)*  >>

Pohutakawa, Waiheke Island, Aotearoa.

Pohutakawa, Waiheke Island, Aotearoa.


“I’ve very much enjoyed working with you this year. The reading for the course gave me some much wanted, theoretical underpinning for the ideas and practices that I experienced through my previous trainings, but was unable to ‘ground’ in anything. Then our conversations really led me to re-examine and loosen-off some of the ideas, principles and norms that surround the work I do – in a healthy, creative sense of course.  More than anything, I really appreciated the broadening of a mind that I already thought was quite open!!”

– Course Participant, 2016.


Last year I withdrew my online Ecopsychology course before heading away to New Zealand and Australia for two months. Now I’m back and I have reinstated the course in time for the summer holidays, which have always been a popular time to study.

Bespoke Learning

This course provides six, one-to-one tutorials, custom designed to fit your specific interests, aspirations and schedule. Tutorials are supported by bespoke online notes and email. You have access to an extensive private online library, so that readings are immediately available to you.

The subject is ecopsychology but the specific content of the course depends on you. Some like a focus on guided reading while others prefer an emphasis on dialogue or practical work. Self-guided outdoor activities, creative projects, and collaboration to design new ecopsychology applications have all featured over the last five years.

You can start the course whenever you like. It is then offered over a minimum period of 12 weeks – but you have up to one year to complete it, depending on your circumstances and preferred pace of learning.

During your first personal tutorial, a learning plan is agreed according to your specific interests. We then follow the plan together – and any new directions that emerge – over the following tutorials.

International appeal

The course has been running for over five years now with consistently excellent feedback. Enrolments have come from Australia, New Zealand, France, Sweden, Hong Kong, South Africa and India… as well as from the UK and Ireland.

Find out more or have a chat

If you’re interested and would like to have an initial chat before making any commitments:

Click here to arrange a short informal Skype or phone chat >>

More info >>


*Subject to availability.

Two last-minute SUBSIDISED places available on the April Natural Change short course

Due to a cancelation from two of our bursary-funded participants, we’ve got two last-minute subsidised places available on the upcoming April Natural Change Short Course.

These places are for people who can apply their learning to bring about change in their organisation, community or across wider society. Is this you? Or someone you know?

This is a fantastic opportunity to join a unique course, which normally costs £980. The offer closes at 5.00pm on April 6th and places will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis – so act now if you’re interested!

To join the course or to find out more, please contact Osbert Lancaster as soon as possible: osbert or +44 (0) 7981 528 991.

Natural Change Facilitator Training: Reflections on Residential Three

The week before last I was in the Lake District with the folks on the two-year Natural Change Facilitator Training.

It was a watery start to the week and two people got stranded just 3 kms from the door of the lodge after driving all the way from Scotland! Lake Windermere and the rivers feeding it had flooded and the road into the lodge where we were staying was waist deep. Luckily they managed to find somewhere to stay and arrived early next morning in time for the start of the course.

It was another powerful Natural Change week. There is so much energy, commitment and enthusiasm in the group. It’s wonderful to see everyone build their understanding, skills and confidence. It is also beautiful to see each person find their own ‘way’ with the work: to find their own style and pattern.

We covered a whole range of ideas, techniques and skills – including a full-on search and rescue scenario, on a moonless dark and rainy night in dense, boggy, woodland! Luckily we found “Kamila” – who had failed to return from a solo day – alive and well (although apparently asleep) two and half hours after we started looking for her. She did look a lot like a Macpac expedition rucsac full of fleecy blankets hiding under a tarp, but hey.

It really feels like we’ve demystified Natural Change a lot – without taking away the mystery itself, which is at the heart of the work. I still feel that learning to facilitate it is a process of stripping things away, rather than adding more and more layers of new things. A kind of anti-training. And of course that central to being able to facilitate this simple, yet paradoxically complex process, is the facilitator’s own experience of their ecological self.



The Ecology of the Unconscious in Mandarin Chinese

I was very surprised to hear a couple of weeks ago that a book I co-wrote two chapters in has been translated into Mandarin Chinese!

Vital Signs: Psychological Responses to Ecological Crisis edited by Mary-Jayne Rust and Nick Totton was published in 2012 by Karnac in London. I understand that the Mandarin version will be published soon.

The two chapters are ‘The Ecology of the Unconscious’ (Ch. 5, p63) and ‘The Natural Change Project’ (Ch. 18, p239).

I now need to find someone fluent in both languages to see how the translations compare. I wonder what ‘collective unconscious’ is in Mandarin?

Which self needs changing?

If we are to adapt to ecological change, we need to change ourselves. But this begs one of the most important questions any of us will ever ask: what is my ‘self’?

The evolution of modern psychology quickly arrived at an idea of the human self that has become highly popularised. I rarely meet anyone, for example, that isn’t familiar with the term ‘ego’. Today if you ask someone to point to themselves, they will point to their body. “I” am contained within my skin. This makes perfect sense because that is what we have been taught for hundreds of years by the dominant stories of industrial culture.

But it isn’t true.

Skin and wave
Our skin is a semipermeable membrane across which there are billions of ongoing interactions. Some of these are molecular, some atomic and I imagine many more are sub-atomic.“I” am not just inside my skin.

I find a helpful metaphor here is that of a wave in a river. You can see the wave, you can photograph it, you can draw or paint it, you can point to it and other people will see it: it has an ‘intersubjective’ reality, as Edmund Husserl would say. But if you scoop it out of the river in a bucket, it will vanish – only to be replaced by ‘another’ wave.

The wave is created in a form that we experience as a ‘wave’ by the rocks on the river bed, by the friction of air on the surface of the water, by any material moving through the water, by the dimensions of space the water has in which to flow, by the interactions of light and energy. The wave is a product of its environment. It is the result of an infinite amount of different relationships with everything around and inside it. When it is removed from these relationships, it vanishes.

Physicists would go further and say that this isn’t even a metaphor. We are waves!

So if we are the product of our relationships with everything else in the world, then the self does not stop at the skin. We do not exist in a vacuum – we exist in relationship. This is very important.

Our vanishing self
Our dominant culture is not based on this profoundly simple realism. In our modern daily lives we live like we are separate from the rest of nature. That makes it possible for us to destroy the rest of nature, believing it is somehow for own benefit. But because we are part of nature, we are destroying ourselves as well. If we remove ourselves from the relationships that define us we are diminished, or cease to exist altogether: we vanish.

Going deep
If you want to challenge and change our dominant culture, then you cannot use this narrow pseudo-self definition. The skin-bound ego will always be in conflict with the ‘others’. Always misguidedly seeking to maintain its hard shell shape, unaware that it can only fully exist without it.

Unfortunately, nearly every change programme I have ever seen stops short of asking what self (or selves) it is trying to change. They focus on knowledge and technique, dialogue and values, strategy and policy, technology and implementation. These things are important, of course, but they are not at the root of change.

That is why, I believe, we haven’t yet successfully responded adequately to the ecological crises of our time: we haven’t gone deep enough yet.

We must start with the premise that we need to – first and foremost – facilitate processes that allow people to make the shift from a narrow, skin-bound sense of self to one that is understood as a product of its relationships, including those beyond the human realm.

Without this foundational shift in selfhood, without personal change at the site of our identity, social change will always be shallow and temporary.