HLT Preserved Land Used For Nature-Based Therapy

Harford Land Trust (HLT), Nature Worx and Ashley Addiction Treatment (Ashley) formed a new partnership to bring patients recovering from substance use disorder to protected land throughout Harford County for experiential nature-based programs.

Led by professional guides from Nature Worx, groups of 10 patients will learn how to connect with the healing properties of nature to support their physical, mental and spiritual health. During a typical 90-minute session, focused activities enable the patients to explore each of their senses to experience various aspects of nature. Using naturalist interpretation, mindfulness, meditation and forest therapy techniques, the patients learn skills that will support their recovery.

“At Ashley, we remain committed to helping as many people as possible find their own personal path to recovery—whatever that looks like for them,” said James Ryan, director of emerging adult services at Ashley. “We’re honored to partner with Harford Land Trust and Nature Worx on this unique program that bolsters our holistic approach to treatment and improves the overall patient experience.

HLT made available a large heavily wooded property for the partnership’s pilot sessions. The permanently preserved property is ideal for deep nature immersion owing to its seclusion and stream and variety of plant and animal life.

“The Harford Land trust properties are ideal locations for conducting our experiential immersion sessions in nature,” said Phil Hosmer, founder and executive director of Nature Worx, a Bel Air-based not-for-profit organization. “The patients respond extremely well to the opportunity to relax, reflect and connect with nature away from distractions, noise and other people.”

Nature Worx has worked with more than 500 patients from Ashley since 2017 and started conducting sessions at the HLT property in May. Surveys of the Ashley patients that participate in Nature Worx show that more than 92 percent report they learn ways that nature can support their recovery.

“Our mission is not only to preserve land, but to connect people to the land,” said Kristin Kirkwood, executive director of HLT. “This partnership provides yet another example of how important it is to protect natural lands for the benefit of the community.”