Making women’s shelters more conducive to family life: professionals’ exploration of the benefits of nature

Elise Peters*, Jolanda Maas, Carlo Schuengel, Dieuwke Hovinga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


For families who live in women’s shelters, provision of salubrious activities supports their recovery and resilience. In many fields, natural environments are known to provide such benefits. Using an action research design, this study explored professionals’ perspective on the benefits of nature for family life in women’s shelters. Four researchers and 46 care professionals collaborated for six months on this exploration by forming a Community of Practice (CoP). Thematic analysis of transcripts of CoP meetings and case descriptions showed five themes: nature (1) offers a place for family leisure time, (2) supports social connectedness, (3) supports psychological well-being, (4) offers metaphoric experiences, and (5) supports parenting. The first four themes are in line with insights on the benefits of nature for people in general. Professionals’ explanations of the fifth theme suggest that nature supports parenting by providing relatedness between parent and child, parental feelings of competence, and autonomy in parenting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-487
Number of pages13
JournalChildren's Geographies
Issue number4
Early online date27 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Kinderpostzegels Nederland Foundation. With special acknowledgement to Loes van?t Hoff for her work in the design of the research method.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Family life
  • nature
  • parenting
  • self-determination
  • women’s shelter


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