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An ethnographic examination of the experience of ecotherapy as an intervention for mental health in South and West Wales / Ed Lord

Swansea University Author: Ed Lord

  • E-Thesis – open access under embargo until: 1st August 2023

DOI (Published version): 10.23889/suthesis.057768

Abstract

This thesis uses ethnographic methods to explore the experiences of people in South and West Wales doing ecotherapy activities. Ecotherapy describes a variety of outdoor nature-based activities intended to improve individual and population health and wellbeing. The expected outcomes of ecotherapy ar...

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Published: Swansea Swansea University 2021
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
Supervisor: Coffey, Michael ; Ward, Michael
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa57768
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The expected outcomes of ecotherapy are contested, and there is a widespread focus on how to measure nature exposure or test particular psychological or biological pathways and mechanisms. I argue that this reductionist reification of ecotherapy outcomes leads to a lack of critical attention to the myriad irreducible experiences of people currently taking part in ecotherapy groups in particular places.Ethnographic methods, including participant observation, interviews, and documentary analysis, are deployed to examine four ecotherapy projects in South and West Wales. These projects are indicative of the variation of ecotherapy in the region and include two woodland based groups, a sustainability skills organisation, and a coastal trail running group.Findings are presented in three chapters. First - &#x201C;How bureaucratic systems as &#x2018;smooth flows&#x2019; and &#x2018;striated events&#x2019; shape participant&#x2019;s experience of ecotherapy.&#x201D; - examines the bureaucratic practices in use by the different projects. I suggest the ways in which the &#x2018;natural&#x2019; spaces are produced as therapeutic is informed by how these practices are deployed on a continuum between &#x2018;smooth&#x2019; and &#x2018;striated&#x2019;. Second &#x2013; &#x201C;The expression of multiple notions of &#x2018;escape&#x2019; and &#x2018;getting away&#x2019; as a frame to ecotherapy&#x201D; - in which the natural spaces are operationalised as restorative and energising resources by some and as protective and safe refuges by others. In the final findings chapter &#x2013; &#x201C;People, place &amp; agency: A typology of orientations to ecotherapy&#x201D; - I use my analysis of the fieldwork data to generate a tentative four-part typology of participant orientations towards ecotherapy.My analysis indicates that a greater emphasis is needed on the multiple ways in which spaces are produced as therapeutic by individuals and groups who are already negotiating a complex intersection of environmental, health, and organisational challenges. 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spelling 2021-10-06T14:17:48.2573651 v2 57768 2021-09-03 An ethnographic examination of the experience of ecotherapy as an intervention for mental health in South and West Wales b18ddb213fe27221edc75356c9eef39d Ed Lord Ed Lord true false 2021-09-03 HNU This thesis uses ethnographic methods to explore the experiences of people in South and West Wales doing ecotherapy activities. Ecotherapy describes a variety of outdoor nature-based activities intended to improve individual and population health and wellbeing. The expected outcomes of ecotherapy are contested, and there is a widespread focus on how to measure nature exposure or test particular psychological or biological pathways and mechanisms. I argue that this reductionist reification of ecotherapy outcomes leads to a lack of critical attention to the myriad irreducible experiences of people currently taking part in ecotherapy groups in particular places.Ethnographic methods, including participant observation, interviews, and documentary analysis, are deployed to examine four ecotherapy projects in South and West Wales. These projects are indicative of the variation of ecotherapy in the region and include two woodland based groups, a sustainability skills organisation, and a coastal trail running group.Findings are presented in three chapters. First - “How bureaucratic systems as ‘smooth flows’ and ‘striated events’ shape participant’s experience of ecotherapy.” - examines the bureaucratic practices in use by the different projects. I suggest the ways in which the ‘natural’ spaces are produced as therapeutic is informed by how these practices are deployed on a continuum between ‘smooth’ and ‘striated’. Second – “The expression of multiple notions of ‘escape’ and ‘getting away’ as a frame to ecotherapy” - in which the natural spaces are operationalised as restorative and energising resources by some and as protective and safe refuges by others. In the final findings chapter – “People, place & agency: A typology of orientations to ecotherapy” - I use my analysis of the fieldwork data to generate a tentative four-part typology of participant orientations towards ecotherapy.My analysis indicates that a greater emphasis is needed on the multiple ways in which spaces are produced as therapeutic by individuals and groups who are already negotiating a complex intersection of environmental, health, and organisational challenges. This original contribution shows that there are conflicting rationalities at play in ecotherapy which are being resisted and reproduced in ways not captured by other potentially reductionist and reifying approaches commonly applied to this field of research. E-Thesis Swansea University Swansea Mental Health, Ecotherapy, Ethnography, Assets, Recovery, Nature, Lifestyle Intervention. 3 9 2021 2021-09-03 10.23889/suthesis.057768 ORCiD identifier https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5740-2081 COLLEGE NANME Nursing COLLEGE CODE HNU Swansea University Coffey, Michael ; Ward, Michael Doctoral Ph.D Research Capacity Building Collaboration Wales 2021-10-06T14:17:48.2573651 2021-09-03T10:43:32.2751916 College of Human and Health Sciences Public Health and Policy Studies Ed Lord 1 Under embargo Under embargo 2021-09-03T11:11:07.6140535 Output 7401380 application/pdf E-Thesis – open access true 2023-08-01T00:00:00.0000000 Copyright: The Author, Edward Lord, 2021. true eng
title An ethnographic examination of the experience of ecotherapy as an intervention for mental health in South and West Wales
spellingShingle An ethnographic examination of the experience of ecotherapy as an intervention for mental health in South and West Wales
Ed Lord
title_short An ethnographic examination of the experience of ecotherapy as an intervention for mental health in South and West Wales
title_full An ethnographic examination of the experience of ecotherapy as an intervention for mental health in South and West Wales
title_fullStr An ethnographic examination of the experience of ecotherapy as an intervention for mental health in South and West Wales
title_full_unstemmed An ethnographic examination of the experience of ecotherapy as an intervention for mental health in South and West Wales
title_sort An ethnographic examination of the experience of ecotherapy as an intervention for mental health in South and West Wales
author_id_str_mv b18ddb213fe27221edc75356c9eef39d
author_id_fullname_str_mv b18ddb213fe27221edc75356c9eef39d_***_Ed Lord
author Ed Lord
author2 Ed Lord
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publishDate 2021
institution Swansea University
doi_str_mv 10.23889/suthesis.057768
publisher Swansea University
college_str College of Human and Health Sciences
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hierarchy_top_id collegeofhumanandhealthsciences
hierarchy_top_title College of Human and Health Sciences
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hierarchy_parent_title College of Human and Health Sciences
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description This thesis uses ethnographic methods to explore the experiences of people in South and West Wales doing ecotherapy activities. Ecotherapy describes a variety of outdoor nature-based activities intended to improve individual and population health and wellbeing. The expected outcomes of ecotherapy are contested, and there is a widespread focus on how to measure nature exposure or test particular psychological or biological pathways and mechanisms. I argue that this reductionist reification of ecotherapy outcomes leads to a lack of critical attention to the myriad irreducible experiences of people currently taking part in ecotherapy groups in particular places.Ethnographic methods, including participant observation, interviews, and documentary analysis, are deployed to examine four ecotherapy projects in South and West Wales. These projects are indicative of the variation of ecotherapy in the region and include two woodland based groups, a sustainability skills organisation, and a coastal trail running group.Findings are presented in three chapters. First - “How bureaucratic systems as ‘smooth flows’ and ‘striated events’ shape participant’s experience of ecotherapy.” - examines the bureaucratic practices in use by the different projects. I suggest the ways in which the ‘natural’ spaces are produced as therapeutic is informed by how these practices are deployed on a continuum between ‘smooth’ and ‘striated’. Second – “The expression of multiple notions of ‘escape’ and ‘getting away’ as a frame to ecotherapy” - in which the natural spaces are operationalised as restorative and energising resources by some and as protective and safe refuges by others. In the final findings chapter – “People, place & agency: A typology of orientations to ecotherapy” - I use my analysis of the fieldwork data to generate a tentative four-part typology of participant orientations towards ecotherapy.My analysis indicates that a greater emphasis is needed on the multiple ways in which spaces are produced as therapeutic by individuals and groups who are already negotiating a complex intersection of environmental, health, and organisational challenges. This original contribution shows that there are conflicting rationalities at play in ecotherapy which are being resisted and reproduced in ways not captured by other potentially reductionist and reifying approaches commonly applied to this field of research.
published_date 2021-09-03T04:14:04Z
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