Significance of nature in a clinical setting and its perceived therapeutic value from patients’ perspective
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The effect that nature can have on the development of mental health and the implications for recovery is important for understanding the impact nature has on humans, as well as delineating possible alternative venues for treating psychological problems. The present qualitative study examined how individuals understand the significance of nature in relation to their mental health and treatment. A total of 12 participants in residential treatment for varying nonpsychotic mental health issues were interviewed about previous and present experiences with nature and the meaning these experiences have for them in recovery. Thematic analysis resulted in the creation of two main themes: «being human in nature», which included three sub-themes ‘experience of nature’, ‘effects on focus and attention’ and ‘change and the transformative in nature’, and «nature, the patient and treatment», with two sub-themes ‘nature as therapy’ and ‘nature and therapy’. Participants describe a feeling of coming closer to themselves, to their problems and existential meanings when in nature. In addition, they report being able to make new relational experiences with other patients, and that some experiences in nature can function as symbolic tools in therapy. The study underlines the complex interrelationships between nature and humans and points to new lines for future research.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling on 25 October 2018, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13642537.2018.1529690.