About

Bird Therapy began as a blog, on which I explored the therapeutic benefits of birdwatching for people experiencing difficulties with their mental health. Three years later and It’s certainly spread its wings beyond my expectations. I migrated into new environs, writing a number of guest blogs and then some magazine articles. People began to take interest and I recorded some tweets of the day for Radio 4 and appeared in some other publications, such as the ‘i paper’. As suggested to me by a friend, I started to amalgamate my blogs into a more coherent piece of writing  and this became Bird Therapy the book.

The problem was, no publisher, niche or mainstream, would take a gamble on the book. Reasons for rejections varied, but generally they said my writing wasn’t good enough. So I went away and worked on it for a few years and after the first year, an editor at the crowdfunding publisher Unbound approached me. i had serious reservations about crowdfunding, due to my obsessive fragility, but I went for it and the book is well and truly funded – with some amazing patrons and a foreword from Chris Packham.

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I also speak about my story, experiences and writing and although my talks can be dark, gritty and honest, they share an inspiring and alternative way to find wellness. I’ve spoken at various places such as Cambridge University, the BTO and Cley Marshes NWT. I also shared the stage with Chris Packham at the 2018 Birdfair, talking about Bird Therapy and mental health.

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The plan now, is to continue giving talks until the book is published and them I’ll be releasing a secondary-age teaching resource to run alongside it. I’ll then be looking to the future and how I can marry my working life, as an SEN teacher, with my love for birdwatching and passion for raising mental health awareness.

I live with OCD, generalised anxiety disorder and sporadic bouts of depression and speak openly about suicide, drug abuse and socio-economics.

15 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi, I lost my dog a few years ago and inviting birds into my garden, watching them and feeling i was “looking after them” helped with my grief. I work as a grief counsellor and began to notice bird feeding stations all around the place as patients find watching birds lower they’re stress levels. I also noticed how lonely, isolated people i would visit would also encourage birds into their gardens. A lot of elderly or ill people can’t get out into the countryside so invited it into they’re lives that way. Lowering stress levels with nature will always have positive physical/psychological/spiritual effects.
    All the best,
    Helen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Joe

    Bird watching connects me to nature in a deep way. I get a real sense of the seasons and mother earth with their song, courting, nesting, breeding and seasonal migration. This is so important in these times of sterile modern living with everyone having their noses in phones and gadgets of one sort and another and are disconnected from the precious wild life around them. Anyone can engage with birds and encourage them with a bit of food and a bird box and feel they are doing something important. The pleasure birds give in return in immeasurable. However, nature is in trouble and action needs to be taken to stop the MASSIVE decline.

    Best Wishes with your endeavours

    Polly

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  3. Hi Joe,
    A great subject for your survey and one that I agree with 100%. I have complex partial epilepsy and, whilst I have had seizures during just about every activity you can name, I can’t recall ever having an episode while I’m out and about in the countryside with my binoculars, birdwatching and simply enjoying ‘being in the moment’. It kind of makes you think. Good luck.

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  5. Hi Joe. I too am an interested in exploring this as I love bird watching (particularly raptors) & feel you may have coupled a therapy that will take away the compulsion to lock oneself away rather than squaring up & giving oneself a good talking to. Could you tweet me information about your business please? Many thanks. Neil.

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    • Hi Neil

      There’s not much to it I’m afraid… Certainly not a business. Literally just a blog, with thoughts and experiences on. Other people have shared their experiences with me and at some time in the future I hope to write a book on the subject. Thanks for the interest though and sorry it’s nothing more exciting.

      Joe

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    • I would be interested in hearing of any activities, I am a birder and am currently off sick with depression and work related stress.

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  6. Hi Joe,
    My name is Simon, I’m an ex RGN and life-long naturalist with a keen bent towards film making. All of this has conspired into me starting WILD Presentations. The WP concept comes from witnessing exactly what you’re inferring about the meditative, calming and structured way of nature and it’s effect cognitively. My years as a District Nurse found me constantly being requested to recite my latest experiences as a naturalist – where I’d been, what I’d seen and what might be beckoning. Such was the outpouring and desire to reconnect with nature from people that now found life limiting, and such was the obvious therapeutic outcome from a simple recital that I knew I could manifest it into something with much more substance. So now I make HD films from all parts of the country, based on themes from seasons to locations, near and far. Films that are then shown on a 2m wide screen with surround (mostly natural) sound and a strong live narrative. The responses, changes – some wholesale, in the people that have watched and continue to watch them have massively exceeded even my high hopes and have left staff at the sites these guys reside absolutely gobsmacked. The popularity and range of WP has rocketed as word has spread – I believe I’m the only person in the country providing this nature-based kind of therapeutic and stimulating format and there are plans to extend the tactility of it with more objects to handle related to what is on the screen. The effects on well-being often lead to tears and emotional release not witnessed from individuals since the inception of their care.
    The link to cognitive and psychological soundness and contact with the natural world (even secondary as with my audiences) is as real and as measurable as anything could ever be. I bear witness to it daily.
    Please feel free to contact me at any time if I can help in any way. It’s a good message that needs spreading!
    Cheers, Si.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Hello Joe,

    I have had a severe mental health condition since I was a very young girl. I am now 51 and this will be a lifetime condition. I am incredibly lucky however that it is so well managed that the majority of the time I am completely symptom free. As ‘an expert by experience’ I was asked to speak to a group of students training to be mental health nurses, which I did yesterday. I think what you are doing is wonderful. For a long time I have been telling people how essential connection with the natural world is to well-being. So I took the opportunity yesterday to make the trainee nurses aware of your project. I wore my Bird Therapy t-shirt and included in my handouts a copy of this blog – your words and the comments posted here.

    I have also found that simply wearing t-shirt is way of spreading word as people ask me about it. But that was probably your intent when producing them so this will come as no surprise!

    As a girl birdwatching was something that brought me real solace. Today I find it spiritual uplifting. (I have completed your survey).

    Looking forward to following your progress.
    Julie

    Liked by 1 person

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