When Joe Harkness suffered a breakdown in 2013, he tried all the things his doctor recommended: medication helped, counselling was enlightening, and mindfulness grounded him. But nothing came close to nature, particularly birds. How had he never noticed such beauty before? Soon, every avian encounter took him one step closer to accepting who he is.
The positive change in Joe's wellbeing was so profound that he started a blog to record his experience. Three years later he has become a spokesperson for the benefits of birdwatching, spreading the word everywhere from Radio 4 to Downing Street.
In this groundbreaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves.
Joe Harkness has been writing a Bird Therapy blog for the last three years. In 2017, he had articles published in The Curlew and Birdwatch magazine as well as recording three `tweets of the day' for BBC Radio 4. He is employed as a Special Educational Needs teacher and has worked in the youth sector for nine years. He lives in Norfolk.
"Fabulously direct and truthful, filled with energy but devoid of self-pity [...] I was impressed and enchanted. Highly recommended"
– Stephen Fry
"Succeeds – triumphantly – in articulating with great honesty what it is like to suffer with a mental illness, and in providing strategies for coping"
– Mail on Sunday
"A manifesto for transformation, Bird Therapy is inclusive, unpretentious and evangelical in the best way"
– Melissa Harrison, author of All Among the Barley
"This is a generous, honest and gently inspirational book, a touching exploration of the solace we find in neighbourhood nature. Beginners at birdwatching and beginners at life – all of us – can learn something from Joe Harkness"
– Patrick Barkham, author of The Butterfly Isles
"An antidote to the stress and confusion of modern life. This is an honest, warm and positive guide to decompression [...] one bird at a time"
– Nick Baker, naturalist and TV presenter
"Nature cannot cure you, but reading this beautiful and honest book will take you very close indeed to the best things going"
– Tim Dee, author of The Running Sky
"Gripping, funny, moving and at times brutally honest [...] One of the most important books I have read for a long time"
– Stephen Moss, author and naturalist
"Bird Therapy is a real tonic; a prescription, a guide and a hopeful way to soar"
– Nicola Chester, nature writer and the RSPB's longest-running female columnist
"I can't remember the last book I read that I could say with absolute assurance would save lives. But this one will"
– Chris Packham