About Bird Therapy

Bird Therapy is a writing project exploring the therapeutic benefits of birdwatching for people experiencing difficulties with their mental health. I’ve been writing on this topic for two years now, both as a blog and also as a book – which is close to completion. This has led to me being asked to write a number of guest blogs and articles which can be viewed under the writing tab above. My ongoing Bird Therapy blog can also be found under this tab.

In 2017 I was asked to speak at an ‘Earth Optimism’ event at Cambridge UCCRI. The talk was a success and public speaking about Bird Therapy is something I offer – more information on this can be found under the outreach tab above. I had hoped to facilitate some group work but I’ve come to realise that this isn’t viable at this stage in my life; although who knows what the future may hold?

Bird Therapy is run by me - Joe Harkness. I’m a qualified teacher who has been working in the youth sector for nine years. My specialist area of work has always been the engagement of hard-to-reach target groups. I live with OCD, generalised anxiety disorder and sporadic bouts of depression and use the outdoors and birdwatching to help manage my symptoms and compulsions.

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Five thoughts on “Bird Therapy”

Darren Mallett

Very interesting Joe see you have been busy since I last saw you Hope all goes well with your news in June Darren

Richard Barton

Finding this site has been great. I recently had a serious mental collapse, unforeseen at 58 am still getting back on some sort of track. I had a great affinity with the countryside when I was young but life took over and I am now reconnecting with it, getting back to birding. I’m realising I need to start all over again, as it seems like I have forgotten everything I ever knew but it’s keeping me with something to focus on other than my mind! I am not on twitter but happy to promote bird therapy wherever I can. Must get a T shirt Good luck to everyone.

John Cantelo

Just a quick line to wish you the best of luck with your new webpage and any other ventures under the ‘Bird Therapy’ umbrella.

Julie Wakefield

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.

Steven Hammond

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