A post-phenomenological study of 'therapeutic landscape' experiences

Edwards, Annabelle and Bingley, Amanda and Evans, Bethan (2021) A post-phenomenological study of 'therapeutic landscape' experiences. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis makes a contribution to the ‘therapeutic landscapes’ literature within social, cultural, and, health geography. It represents an effort to deepen understanding of the complexities of ‘therapeutic landscape’ experiences and ‘therapeutic’ outcomes; to explore how ‘therapeutic landscape’ experiences vary between people and over time; and to consider the processes of emergence, to consider how ‘therapeutic landscape’ experiences and ‘therapeutic’ outcomes, come to be. Central to realising these aims are the theoretical position and methodological approach. Theoretically, this thesis is driven by an understanding of subjectivity developed through a bringing together of post-phenomenological, feminist, and queer theories; an understanding of the body-subject as susceptible to the external world, as continually emerging through its interactions, but also as a locus of embodied history, with what comes before affecting and informing future possibilities. This theoretical position, as well as the concern to explore complexities, necessitated a methodological approach targeted at unfolding individual experience, and that could enable a discussion of experience beyond the specificities of a single type of ‘therapeutic landscape’. As such, data-collection took place across the three ‘therapeutic landscapes’ of conservation volunteering, walking groups, and meditation retreats. In the context of these three ‘therapeutic landscapes’, a twophased approach to data-collection inspired by Moustakas’ (1990) ‘Heuristic Research’ framework for phenomenological data-collection, was adopted. In the first instance, I participated in the ‘therapeutic landscapes’ of conservation volunteering, group walking, and meditation retreats, and kept a diary of these experiences. Following this, I interviewed others (n=20) I met during my participation about their experiences. From analysis of the data, three distinct but overlapping components of participation emerged across the three ‘therapeutic landscapes’ of study, those of: the origins of participation; becoming removed from daily lives; and arrival or immersion in the ‘therapeutic landscape’; and it is these components that form the structure of the empirical chapters. Throughout the discussion, I explore the complexities and particularities of each of these components in light of the understanding of subjectivity outlined, and present a case for ‘therapeutic landscape’ experiences to be understood as individually specific and continually emergent as a consequence of bodily susceptibilities; and, moreover, as neither consistently nor universally ‘therapeutic’.

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Thesis (PhD)
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18 Jan 2021 09:55
Last Modified:
03 Jun 2024 23:33