Dr Elizabeth Freeman

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Dr Elizabeth Freeman BSc, PhD, CPhyscol, AFHEA, ML

Lecturer In Psychology


I have been interested in the psychology and mental health for a long time. I completed my BSc (Hons) at the University of Stirling in 2008 and my desire to find effective ways of working with people with mental health issues led me to do a PhD in 2009. Employing a qualitative methodology, the thesis investigated human-environment interaction and people's meaning-making and experience of a Walking and Solo Experience (WSE). The WSE was designed for the UK context and, with a summer mountain leader award (MLA), I guided the WSE.


In 2013, I was awarded my doctorate by the University of Leeds and my current aim is to further examine the effectiveness of WSEs with military veterans. Throughout my 8 years of education I have; been a member of voluntary community group committees (eg Edible York and York in Transition), volunteered with mental health services (e.g. Open Secret) and completed mental health training (ASSIST, MHFA and counselling skills).

I am a community-environmental psychologist, passionate about understanding: human-nature interrelationships and interaction; working with people to realise their potential and improve quality of life; and how natural environment experiences (and WSEs) might benefit people and engender more positive environmental attitudes, beliefs, behaviours, and stronger environmental identities. This research focus involves the examination of well-being, emotions, self-concept, identity, values, attitudes and behaviour, and the exploration how natural environments work as a therapeutic medium (Eco-therapy/Nature therapy/ Ecopsychology). I also research placemaking and wellbeing (drawing upon areas of health and cultural geography), exploring sense of place, the development of place attachment and community, and mapping place characteristics, meaning and their association with wellbeing. Although I'm predominantly a qualitative researcher, I also employ quantitative methodologies when appropriate.

I joined Sheffield Hallam University as an associate lecturer in 2013 and as a full-time lecturer in 2014.


Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics

College of Social Sciences and Arts

Teaching Interests:

  • Social Psychology;
  • Introduction to Counselling and Psychotherapy;
  • The Psychology of Development and Behaviour;
  • Social Psychology and Qualitative Research Methods;
  • Qualitative Research Methods;
  • Clinical Psychology;
  • Work Psychology Enhances Employability;
  • Sports and Exercise Psychology;
  • Academic Development and Personal Tuition.


Expertise and Research Interests:

  • Mental health/ wellbeing and the natural environment;
  • Experience, meaning-making and human-nature interaction/ interrelationship;
  • Placemaking and Wellbeing;
  • Environmental Philosophy;
  • Eco-therapy and Outdoor Therapies;
  • Therapeutic Potential of Art.


Moore, R., Edmondson, L., Gregory, M., Griffiths, K., & Freeman, E. (2023). Barriers and facilitators to physical activity and further digital exercise intervention among inactive British adolescents in secondary schools: a qualitative study with physical education teachers. Frontiers in Public Health, 11. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2023.1193669

Gurung, J., Turner, J., Freeman, E., Coleman, C., Iacovou, S., & Hemingway, S. (2023). An evaluation of MINDFIT—A student therapeutic running group as a multi-layered intervention in the United Kingdom. Nursing Reports, 13 (1), 456-469. http://doi.org/10.3390/nursrep13010042

Freeman, E. (2017). Benefits of walking and solo experiences in UK wild places. Health Promotion International, 32 (6), 1048-1056. http://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daw036

Freeman, E. (2017). Book review: With nature in mind: The ecotherapy manual for mental health professionals. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 45 (5), 633-635. http://doi.org/10.1080/03069885.2017.1317713

Conference papers

Freeman, E., Robinson, E., & Harland, K. (2016). Understanding the power of the "solo". In Coles, R., Costa, S., & Watson, S. (Eds.) Well-Being 2016: Third International Conference Exploring the Multi-Dimensions of Well-Being, Birmingham City University, 5 September 2016 - 6 September 2016 (pp. 67-70). Birmingham: Birmingham City University: https://www.academia.edu/29321965/Co-creating_Pathways_to_Well-being_book_of_proceedings_

Theses / Dissertations

Sasi, O.A.Y. (2022). Holistic housing design to enhance health and wellbeing for libyan war wounded. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Spence, K., Al-Obaidi, K., & Freeman, E. http://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00494

Pattinson, C.J. (2022). Hope and Gratitude as Self-Management Tools for Excessive Worry in HE Students. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Macaskill, A., Freeman, E., & Coleman, C. http://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00502

Internet Publications

Rucklidge, J., & Freeman, E. (2021). Ego to Eco Website. https://egotoeco.uk/


Rucklidge, J., & Freeman, E. (2020). Ego to Eco: we are nature. Sheffield Institute of Arts Gallery. http://egotoeco.uk/


Kilby, L., Olusoga, P., Bennett, C., & Freeman, E. (2021). Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Social Science: If we are all so ‘woke’ why are we still so ‘stuck’ with the status quo? Presented at: PSP Annual Conference, Sheffield


Rucklidge, J., & Freeman, E. (2021). How to connect to nature & yourself: spend time in imaginary worlds, talk to yourself, stay away from people commune with nature, draw about it. Presented at: Earth(ly) Matters 2021 - Human in Context: Mind, Body, Nature & Society, Sheffield Hallam University

Other activities

  • I have been invited as a keynote to York St John University Undergraduate Research Conference (2014) and have reviewed articles for Counselling Psychology Quarterly.
  • I have been invited to review research application for Rannis: The Icelandic Research Fund (2016);
  • Founder and Chair of the Nationally based  Nature Connection Research Network (NCRN);
  • Founder and Chair of the SHU based  Nature Connection & Well-being Research Group (NCW).

Professional Membership

  • British Psychological Society (BPS)
  • BPS Community Psychology Section
  • Associate Fellow of Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • British Mountaineering Council (BMC)

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