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ep.20: Nature Therapy with Charletta Erb

Have you ever contemplated the power of nature and its impact on your ADHD symptoms? We bring you an enlightening conversation where we unravel this fascinating concept with Charletta Erb, the innovative founder of Rooted Circle.

Charletta has a unique perspective that she brings into her practice, showcasing her mobile office as a testament to her commitment to nature therapy. By the end of our enlightening chat, we hope to inspire you to prioritize spending time outdoors and reap the numerous benefits it has to offer.

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What you'll learn:

  • The role of nature in ADHD management and how it intersects with therapy

  • How sunlight plays a crucial role in regulating sleep

  • Overcoming obstacles to spend more time in nature

  • Charletta's insights on nature therapy

"You've got this beautiful meeting place of stimulation of the senses, calming the nervous system, regulating brain waves, and a sense of awe to just be present here and now." - Charletta Erb

Useful links mentioned:

Learn more about Charletta Erb:

Charletta Erb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, specializing in couples' conflicts and nature-based psychotherapy for people with big emotions.

She earned her master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. She also completed additional training in Somatic Psychotherapy and Bowen Family Systems Theory. She has worked as a therapist at Maple Counseling Center, Family Therapy Institute, Community Counseling and Education Center, and Healthy Relationships California.

She draws on a background in mediation, restorative justice, and therapeutic applications of interpersonal neurobiology (how the brain works in relationships). Previously, she served as a consultant with several non-profits addressing organizational conflict and development.

She also has a bachelor’s degree from Goshen College in Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies with a focus in mediation and organizational conflict. In her free time, she sings and plays fiddle in multiple bands.

Listen to the Episode:

Click here to read the transcript:

Welcome to Learn To Thrive with ADHD. This is the podcast for adults with ADHD or ADHD like symptoms. I'm your host coach, Mande John. I'm here to make your life with ADHD easier. Let's get started.

All right, welcome back. We are with Charletta Erb and she's going to talk to us about nature therapy today and I have to tell you guys something really fun. She's in a van for our meeting. Tell us what this van is for you.


This is my sanctuary, my office. Just got it at the end of October, and so I'm going to convert it into a multi-purpose space so that I can spend more time in nature myself and so that when I do psychotherapy with clients, if we need four walls, we can come in here for a backup office, or we can get out and walk and talk.


Her office is on wheels. It's like your shed on wheels, kind of here. Oh yeah, okay. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?


Okay, well, I'm the founder of Rooted Circle Promoting Therapy and Nature tagline Counseling Outside to Heal Inside, and I'm building platforms on to promote nature therapy for individuals such as my clients and also to promote practices to have more psychotherapy in nature, so helping other practitioners.

I'm a therapist by day and a fiddler by night, so I see clients a few days a week and the rest of the weekend is available for performing lately like eight hours a weekend in a blue grass band, especially with Whole Hog. So yeah, you can see what I'm up to at and


Oh my God. And the way I know Charletta is, she was a client of mine for adult anxiety coaching, and you can see she's got a lot going on. So, a lot of times with all of our brains, unique interests, so we have to kind of really have somebody there to help us organize those things.

And so, yeah, we're going to go ahead and talk about the reason I even wanted to have you here is I feel it's so important to get out in nature. I know when I feel really restless, I will take off. I'm on my way to San Diego or oceanside to go and enjoy the ocean.

I know when I'm having a challenging day or I'm really tired, walking around the alfalfa fields here where I live is just a beautiful thing to do in our valley. So, it's just something that's really important to me and I noticed that it really helps my ADHD brain.

And I wanted to share it with the people listening about what they can do when they're not getting outside. You shared with me something very interesting about people in prison. Can you tell us about that?


Okay, my colleague, another therapist, nature therapist Quentin Dunn, is writing a book on the topic and in his research, he realized that prisoners are mandatorily given time in nature every day and the amount of time they have in nature is more than most adults in the US spend in nature voluntarily. So that's a human rights kind of issue that we're denying ourselves.


Yeah, that's crazy. You think about people in prison, and they're trapped there, right, but they actually get more time outdoors than we do, and that's by choice. We need to make a different choice, so it is very interesting. So why is it important that we get out in nature and what does it do for us?


Well, one of the top things you can do to improve symptoms of ADHD is to get exercise. I've heard of studies where people were able to reduce anxiety and depression medications, in consultation with their doctors, of course, if they just got 40 minutes a day.

The thing is 40 minutes a day of cardiovascular exercise led to the majority of subjects of the study being able to eliminate ADHD medications.

Amazing, right? Just through the natural happy chemicals, the heart rate, the de-stress of running off all that energy, and so add to that time in nature, where we would frequently spend time in cardiovascular exercise, and you get added benefits of vitamin D, sun exposure, phytochemicals which yeah, you've got your aromatherapy, you've got natural regulation of brain waves. That's shown with time in nature.

A lot of the studies on the benefits of nature come from shinrin-yoku or forest bathing, examples from, I believe, programs initiated in Japan.

I could be wrong about the exact country, but programs initiated there for relief of people being overworked, and so lots of great studies about what it did for long-term health, heart health.

And then you know personal experience when I've had some time in nature, I'm much better able to settle down and focus on certain tasks or getting power-packed breaks in between my Pomodoro focus by stepping outside for five minutes, you know, and just a natural reset.


Yeah, I've heard it does a whole lot for attention and focus, and it's interesting that you talked about like just stepping out for five minutes.

One thing I've been really working on, because my sleep has always been such a problem, is and I got this from Dr. Huberman but getting sunlight in my eyes first thing in the morning. So, what would you have to say about that?


The sunlight's role is getting our biorhythms, our sleep cycle, regulated. Vitamin D has a role in lifting depression, which also has immune system benefits. We tend to get sicker at the end of the day, right when our energy declines, but that's also when we don't have as much light and people can get thicker in the winter, not just because of cold but because we have less exposure to sunlight.

So, yeah, that's the thing I'd say. I would add on to, of course, we keep hearing about benefits of mindfulness practices in attention and focus, and yet that's one of the hardest things for ADHD years to do Absolutely Settle down when you're so restless. So, take yourself outside.

You've got this beautiful meeting place of stimulation of the senses and calming the nervous system and regulating brain waves and just beauty to take in so that you're taken up in a sense of awe and able to just be present here and now, focused, which is what we're going for with mindfulness, but it just takes so much effort out of it.


Exactly. I mean to ask me, as a hyperactive, to sit still and meditate sounds like torture. But you ask me to go out for a walk-in nature, no problem. It's very interesting that you talked about like the awe, because I have really been trying to make sure I'm moving more.

I mean, I sit here in this chair a lot of the day trying to create content for you what’s things that are helpful for adults with ADHD and working with my clients, but I've really been wanting to make sure I move more and what's been really motivating me more than anything is trying to time it just right where I get to see the sunset, because it's so beautiful that adds structure to it too.

It's so natural, makes so much sense, and I was saying before the call that I actually timed it wrong yesterday, but I ended up walking back in the dark and that had its own beauty. I mean, the moon was kind of a crescent, and you feel hugged by yes, exactly hugged by the dark.

It was just beautiful and so it's just so much encouraged me to get out every day and get that done, even if I let go of going to the gym, even though it's kind of silly when you own the gym. But letting go of going to the gym in order to get outdoors, it's that important to me so I love it All right.

So, one thing that we talked about was how can they take activities outside and what kind of activities can they take outside?


I have been outdoors walking with this harness around my neck to hold my cell phone and I'm able to take in the view, have a thought and action it. So, there I am walking along in botanical gardens and I'm texting back and forth with someone from Fiverr about creating a logo for me. So that, yeah, that harness is very useful.

There's a great trend where a lot of the beautiful outdoor spaces around here you may find this in your setting too A lot of those outdoor spaces are also where they're cell phone towers. You know, there's definitely places where it's enclosed and you don't have that kind of access, but it's not necessarily a bad idea.

Also, if you wanted to get out and away from everything where you don't have connectivity, just to be your own captive audience, that's readily available too.


It's interesting that you brought up the thing about the cell phone towers, because it seems like last time, I was at the San Diego Botanical Garden I thought I remembered there being a cell phone tower right in the right I don't know about in the middle, but there was one of those like fake nature ones.


Oh yeah, the ones that look like trees.


Yeah, so okay, oh, and that brings me to something I took outside just this week was I was feeling kind of lonely, and I think my friend and I were actually talking about this, that we think everybody's feeling lonely, we're just not talking about it.

And so I made some time to talk to a friend and, you know, just put in my earbuds and took her for a walk with me and got to have like an hour and a half talk while I was out in nature, while I was getting exercise, and I have to say, towards the end of that day I felt happier than I had felt in a long time and just like a boost of happiness from being outdoors, getting the exercise, getting the connection with another human being that understands me and I understand them, and so it's just a really wonderful thing all around.

So, however, you guys can get outdoors, I really encourage you to do so.


Mande, do you ever get restless on phone calls?


Oh, absolutely!


Getting out and moving helps to make the phone call even better.


Exactly. I mean, I am never sitting and having a phone call. If I am in my house, I am walking around the house having a phone call.

So, one thing you talked about was something interesting about the pandemic. Do you remember what that was?


Yeah, so during the pandemic, people were isolated in their homes, or they were a captive audience to every member of their family in their homes and working all the time. So, I had clients calling me from closets and cars and even bathrooms, appropriately dressed of course. So, yeah, they're just trying to carve out any space for privacy, and so I was able to get back to seeing people in person a lot quicker by meeting up for walk and talk therapy, because the air disperses any virus and just not as big of a concern and it's so good for our health that counteracts any risk, I think.

So, we also saw a huge increase in use of parks and trailheads. They were even thinking of closing places down or calling it off limits because of just the capacity.

People weren't necessarily respecting the paths, they were walking off path, they were reckless with habitat, they were littering, but it was the only act in town. For so many months it was the only form of entertainment, of doing anything outside of the house.

So, people have rediscovered a connection with nature and ways that made them feel less lonely, even if they were alone in it, and just the exercise. When the gyms were all closed down, the trails were there. So, yeah, that played a big role in taking my therapy practice into nature.


One thing that I wanted to kind of bring up is what if somebody's on the fence Like, what if they're just feeling like I don't really have time to get outside? I have so much to do. What do you think are the reasons people don't get outside?


You can't afford not to get outside. It opens up so much more effective use of time, both in the health benefits and in the focus that you gain from it. You can take many of your tasks outside already with, you know, having data on a phone. I've talked about my neck cradle, so I'm not even having to hold it in front of me the whole time. But the benefits actually gain you time, I would say.


So, one thing that came to mind as you were saying is what about extreme weather? So, I live in the desert where it can be 125 degrees part of the year or more, some years, or people that live in like extreme cold. What can they do?


So, I would say there's no bad weather, just the wrong clothing. So, add on this hat and I've got a natural wind barrier and if there's too much wind, I can put my microphone right up in here and kind of shield it. You know, you could have really big hats help protect you from rain.

You can go out with an umbrella; you can have rain gear. Wind sometimes affects the quality of a call, but there's so much you can do to be comfortable, even outside in snow.

So it's just, you know, a matter of having options for yourself having the right kind of shoes in the car, having something like a camel back with very small raincoat stuffed inside, just in case the weather changes while you're out and about, yeah, so there's definitely ways to remediate that and when in doubt, that's what I love about having this van, because this is a backup option if the weather's not great.


Well, I know I have tended to avoid it when it's very hot outside. But I mean, there are everybody's talking about sauna therapy and all that kind of stuff. So, you're taking care of yourself outdoors, like don't go out and hydrate yourself or stay hydrated much bigger risk than wild animals mauling you to death or get overheated or anything like that.

Right, yeah, that's something I'm going to look at. This summer is like okay if I can just take a short walk and it's okay if I get a little bit sweaty. So yeah, about something I'm definitely going to look at. Do you have anything else you can think of that we should add?


Yeah, encourage people to just look at the video on my home page on It's a beautifully filmed video talking about the many benefits of nature therapy, which would apply whether you're with a psychotherapist or not.

But walking while processing emotional content is a great mind-body connection built in mindfulness. Two people walking side by side, even encouraging couples to get out walking together. It takes it away from focusing on each other and focusing forward, looking, addressing whatever is coming up. I could also speak about how I got started spending more time in nature.

I was a founding member of Ojai Church of the Wild, which later the founder developed into a whole wild church network in the last seven years because this has been springing up all over the place, all over North America and beyond.

So, basically taking church outside and having nature as the sermon, will walk for 40 minutes and come back and share our experiences, just opening up our imagination to what plants have to say about it, to what the path says, what the river says. I've seen so and I found that that kind of church for me was so meaningful because it translates across different worldviews.

It is applicable for my therapy work and when I'm in long week of constant words talking in psychotherapy. It's so refreshing to have the input of nature. Yeah, Church of the Wild was a big influence on me, noticing the therapeutic benefits for myself and then wanting to share that with others, very cool.


All right. Well, I hope you guys enjoyed this talk about nature therapy. I hope it has encouraged you. If you're not all ready to get it, go outside. If you are going outside, can you increase that? It's so good for your brain. It's so good for you in so many ways. I want to thank Charletta for being here today. How can my people find you?


Yeah, it's easy. Are you interested in bluegrass music?, and if you're interested in learning more about nature-based psychotherapy, that is, and there I have resources both for individuals looking to spend more time in nature and meditative practices, as well as resources for professionals that want to practice more in nature. So yeah, check it out.


All right. So, I have had so much fun with Charletta as a client. I have had so many fun conversations with her, and I appreciate you being here today. Thank you so much.


I appreciate you, Mande, for all your help with my ADHD and organizing and lifting my business and website and music off the ground, so thank you so much.


Okay, all right. Well, that does it, thank you. I appreciate you being here. I’m so excited to do this.


Good, me too. All right, be in touch.

Thank you for your time, and especially for your attention today. If you haven't looked into the ADHD Academy, you'll want to do that. This is my membership, with binge-able courses, weekly life coaching, new courses every month, a community of like-minded people and more.

Be sure to head over to to get the details. See you next week.

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