Landings: A Settler Descendent Relationship to Land
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Mental wellbeing is influenced by relationships with nature and land. The climate crisis is increasingly recognised as impacting mental health. In Aotearoa New Zealand, ecological loss occurs against a colonised landscape; relationship to land is entangled with historical trauma. Practicing relational psychotherapy within this context requires attention to the way that relationship to land is experienced. This heuristic self-search inquiry examines the experience of relationship to land of a settler-descended psychotherapy trainee. Drawing on Moustakas and Sela-Smith, I use a six-phase process, driven by journaling, poetry, focussing, dreams, and reflective self-inquiry and self-dialogue, to explore my experience. The resulting creative synthesis explores ambivalence and covert hostility within my experience of relationship to land. Four themes are identified: the existential distress and resentment of inevitable death; my relationship to my colonising ancestors; powerlessness, trauma, and resentment in the climate crisis; and how gender and queerness shape my relationship to land. The distress, resentment, and covert hostility to land are uncomfortable to experience; relationship to land may hold defensive aspects of avoidance, denial, and disengagement. As a self-inquiry, this research is not directly generalisable to others; however, it demonstrates the potential complexity and ambivalence of relationship to land, with implications for ecopsychology, mental health, and climate activism.