Seeking everyday wellbeing: the coast as a therapeutic landscape.
Bell, Sarah L.
Wheeler, Benedict W.
Social Science and Medicine
Reason for embargo
Recent research suggests coastal environments may promote human health and wellbeing. This article explores the diverse coastal experiences sought out by residents of two towns in south west England to promote and preserve their personal wellbeing in the context of their everyday lives. It draws on the findings of an in-depth interpretive study conducted from May to November 2013 that examined the relative contribution of varied green and blue space experiences to individual wellbeing through the life course. Personalised activity maps produced using accelerometer and Global Positioning System (GPS) data were used to guide in-depth geo-narrative interviews with a purposive sample of 33 participants. This was combined with a subset of nine case study go-along interviews in places deemed therapeutic by the participants themselves, offering deeper insight into the lived experiences and relationships playing out within such places. Situated in a novel adaptation of the therapeutic landscapes framework, this article explores how symbolic, achievement-oriented, immersive and social experiences contributed to participants' sense of wellbeing in their local coastal areas. Participants expressed particularly strong and often enduring connections to the local coastline, with different coastal stretches perceived to cater for varied therapeutic needs and interests, at multiple scales and intensities. The findings suggest the need for greater acknowledgement of people's emotional, deeply embodied and often shared connections to the coast within coastal management policy and practice, both nationally and internationally. Importantly, such efforts should recognise the fluid, dynamic nature of this land-sea boundary, and the valued therapeutic experiences linked to this fluidity.
European Social Fund (ESF)
European Regional Development Fund
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved
Post-review pre-print. The version of record is available from the publisher via: doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.08.011
Vol. 142, pp. 56 - 67
Place of publication