This paper explores the potential therapeutic value of Nature in the healing process of people who have been exiled from their homeland. Using a case study from my work with a client named Law Meh, I explore how the catastrophic trauma of being forced from her village in the mountains with the many losses that ensued, remained buried within her. I will illustrate how this previously inaccessible grief, found a pathway in the mountains and farmlands of Auckland when we were able to hear her plea to escape her new home where she felt trapped, and return to the “jungle” her real home in the mountains.
Inherent in working with people from a refugee background are many obstacles, including language barriers, complex trauma presentations, less than optimal care and conditions during often lengthy waiting periods before arriving in their host country, and the loss of family members.
In this case study, I illustrate how these challenges can be attended to when we respond to a client’s gravitation to the natural world. On a visit to a public farm, Law Meh, saw the Waitakere Mountains in the distance and expressed her desire to go there. I invited Law Meh to choose our path on the mountain, and was taken along on a journey in which I saw through her eyes essential elements from her tribal lands and heritage. Most centrally I noticed how Law Meh’s attention focused on ‘reading the grass’ for Buffalo grazing.
Communicating this facilitated her remembering the essence of her early life providing the container within which her stories could now be told.
The implications of our work together, I argue are highly significant in the field of working with people who have been traumatically displaced from their homelands.