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Shut Up and Fish!

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I don't usually consider fishing a form of nature therapy -- perhaps because it's anything but therapeutic for the fish -- but an episode of Grey's Anatomy made me reconsider.

In episodes 10 and 11 of Season 7 the surgeons and interns at the fictional Mercy Grace Hospital in Seattle are trying to cope with the aftermath of a devastating experience caused by a rogue shooter. Everyone is traumatized and special trauma therapists have been brought in to help. The only person seemingly immune to this approach is Dr. Christina Yang, an enigmatic and driven surgical resident played by the marvelous Sandra Oh. No one can reach her and to cope with the pressure of her bottled up emotions she has embarked on frantic and manic acting out to avoid her pain, becoming a bar hostess, getting drunk and avoiding the hospital.

Finally a senior surgeon, Dr. Derek Shepherd, takes Christina fishing, making no effort to "cure" her PTSD. All he does once they are in the fishing boat together is to stop her babbling so she can have a few quiet hours on the water, surrounded by majestic mountains. Unsurprisingly -- at least for ecotherapists -- Christina's fishing trip ends in a flood of tears as the lake (and a fish) break down the walls of defensive denial, making it possible for her to begin to process and release the trauma trapped inside her body and soul. As always, nature is the ultimate healer.

Perhaps therapists and nature therapists need to take a new look at what hunters and fishers have been doing for eons. While we may abhor the suffering of the creatures killed, perhaps we can also recognize the powerful nature healing that many men -- and a few women -- experience as they de-domesticate their lives for a few days or hours, escaping daily pressures by returning to the wild and just sitting and waiting for the natural environment to slow them down and suck the stress from their lives.