Andy Harrod

Senior Teaching Associate in Human Geography, PhD student

Research Interests

I am a health and wellbeing geography PhD researcher. My PhD research is focused on exploring participants and facilitators lived experience of green care and the longevity of influences from these experiences on participants’ wellbeing. I am particularly interested in the experiences of young people (16-29) attending green care during emerging adulthood and how this period of being, developing and transitioning interacts with the participants’ experiences and affects the longevity of any benefits to wellbeing.

Green care, also known as ecotherapy and nature-based interventions, are programmes that provide regular and structured activities in nature, which are led by facilitators, with the aim of improving the wellbeing of the people who attend. I am focusing on the following types of green care: blue and green exercise, care farming, environmental conservation programmes, social and therapeutic horticulture (including gardening programmes) and wilderness therapy (also known as adventure therapy).

Numerous studies demonstrate the benefits of these facilitated activities in nature on improving a person’s wellbeing at the time of the programme. However, the extent of the longevity of these benefits to an individual’s wellbeing are still to be established, as well as how people integrate any benefits into their life, including what factors support this assimilation and what difficulties people experience in maintaining positive changes.

My research is with the facilitators and the participants of green care. I am exploring with participants how they related to the different aspects of these complex and dynamic programmes, including the other-than-human nature, the activities, the social encounters, the facilitators and fellow participants, and how these engagements have influenced their wellbeing over their life course. I am interested in understanding how people’s lived experience of green care interacts with their past experiences and everyday circumstances, including the cultural, social, material and spatial aspects. Specifically, the effect of these interactions on supporting and/or challenging the longevity of any improvements to a person’s sense of being well. I am exploring with facilitators their motivation for their role, the aims of the programme, how the programme is delivered and their understanding of the benefits and challenges involved with green care in encouraging positive changes to wellbeing.

I am interested in the use of qualitative methods, particularly in-depth and creative methods to sensitively explore with people their experiences and the meanings they ascribe to them. During my research I aim to work with the experiences and voices of marginalised people to develop our understanding of how green care is engaged with and how people’s experiences influence their long-term wellbeing practices and sense of being well.

I am also interested in the emotional geography of adverse life events, particularly around loss and grief. Though considering how the emotions and responses to the emotions involved affect the assembling of (un)therapeutic nature engagements and the processing of these experiences. A reflection on my own experience of loss and grief and the influence on my encounters within a moorland landscape can be read or listened to at Sensing Nature, as part of Unlocking Landscapes.