Having a rough day at work? With horticulture therapy, it’s no surprise that you can recharge and destress. Just the thought of interacting with plants can boost your physical and mental well-being. It can also be a fun and social activity by involving friends and family.
Whether it’s gardening or simply having plants in your home, horticulture therapy includes all kinds of activities involving plants. More formally, it is facilitated by a registered therapist to achieve specific goals. Therapy in addition to an established treatment or rehabilitation plan can be very helpful.
The process itself is considered as the therapy rather than the rewards from plants like fruits or flowers. Engaging in such activities enhances quality of life and drives your focus away from stress. There’s no greater joy than being involved in all the phases of gardening. From growing and taking care of plants and selling products.
The findings of many studies suggest that just being in nature, walking through a garden or a park can improve your mood. It boosts your state of mind and lowers blood pressure, heart rate and your stress hormone levels. This can also lead to a longer and happier life.
But involving a trained therapist has a lot more benefits. Research shows that horticulture therapy is an excellent alternative to recovery at mental health facilities. The therapy can have a long-lasting effect on people. People with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can improve their short-term memory with therapy.
Horticulture therapy can also help you learn new skills. It improves memory, interaction and socialization with the community. Moreover, it has physical benefits like better endurance, balance and stronger muscles.
Therapy boosts problem solving and learning to work without assistance. It teaches green skills so that people can learn a trade and get jobs.
Horticulture therapy and Psychological Processes
Natural environments boost your health and well-being by acting as a distraction from stress and anxiety. Above all, there are excellent restorative and relaxation benefits of being in the hands of nature. Just looking at plants through a window has amazing healing powers. Even if you live in the middle of a concrete jungle, walking through a nearby park or garden can lift your mood.
Being surrounded by plants and nature fosters your mood, regulates emotions and lowers stress. The stress response factors also include pulse rate, blood pressure and your current mood.
How Plants enhance our thought process
Gardening has a lot of benefits for our physical and mental well-being. Keen observation of a plant’s journey from a seedling is a part of horticulture therapy. The growth of plants is very similar to the mental health recovery process.
People are usually worried that their seeds won’t grow. But when a sapling starts growing, we gain confidence in our actions. As the plant grows, so does your confidence and self-esteem. This success, however small is enough motivation to start growing more plants.
We may lose hope in growing plants during harsh winters. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. In fact, many seeds are sown late in the winters so that plants start growing early spring. Seeds are the miracle of nature, which know exactly when the conditions are good to start growing.
All you need is the sun, water, some confidence and patience to see those little seedlings grow up. The birds are your audience cheering you with their chirping sounds. And the sun gives you enough warmth and Vitamin D to keep you going. The experience can be so mesmerizing that you will remember these moments for a long time.
But wait, the fun doesn’t stop here. Taking care of plants also has physical benefits. Working with soil and trying to create the perfect environment for your plants also helps burn a lot of calories. All the digging, pulling and planting increases your hand strength. Your daily struggles can be eliminated by working in a garden and making you feel like a part of something big. Indeed, there’s so much life in a garden that it has its own flow.
Horticulture Therapy Programs
A wide variety of Horticulture therapy programs are available in healthcare settings. They can also be grouped by the goals you want to achieve from therapy. Moreover, many institutions use horticulture therapy for their therapeutic needs. The programs also document participant outcomes to get feedback and help improve the program.
Horticulture therapy programs are facilitated by registered therapists. The participants have illnesses or disabilities requiring therapy. Generally, an established treatment plan is selected for therapy.
So, let’s discover the programs:
Vocational Horticulture Therapy
This therapy method aims to enhance your behaviour and learn skills that can be used in a job. Vocational therapy includes activities like watering and moving plants within their space or repotting. Furthermore, all the skills of gardening and plant care to sales and services can be learned through therapy. Finally, the goal is to increase employability and learning to support yourself financially and mentally.
Therapeutic Horticulture Therapy
Being in nature has its own restorative benefits. This is exactly what therapeutic horticulture therapy is all about. It focusses on improving social skills, engagement and physical activity. Some of the activities include watering plants, digging, planting and observing plant growth. This ensures both the mind and body have a lasting impact. Additionally, new plants can boost confidence and bring joy.
Therapy session is usually facilitated by a registered therapist to support program goals. Participants enhance their well-being through active or passive involvement in plant-related activities.
Social Horticulture Therapy
This is more of a leisure activity as compared to other therapy types. Social Horticulture therapy focuses on a better quality of life by growing a community. It works towards teaching self-reliance while growing your support system.
History of Horticulture Therapy
Horticulture therapy has its roots dating back to ancient times. In fact, plants have always given us food and shelter over the years. Our ancestors evolved along with plants over the course of thousands of years. With this in mind, we use this ancient connection with plants for therapy.
Plants reward us in various ways with fruits, vegetables, flowers, fragrance and so much more. They have the capability to stimulate our senses with these rewards. Horticulture therapy is a time proven practice with benefits documented since ancient times. For instance, treatment of hospitalized war veterans included horticulture therapy sessions. In fact, it is widely used in vocational and social settings to this day.
Therapeutic gardens have gained popularity and interest over the years. These gardens are designed to provide relaxation and horticulture therapy. With this intention, a variety of plants are selected. These plants enhance sensory stimulation and attract biodiversity.
Enhancing the connection between people and plants is the main purpose of these gardens. An environment full of plants eases interaction with nature’s healing elements. Further, the interaction may be passive or active based on your needs and the garden design.
These gardens improve our memory and encourage us to exercise. Additionally, regular physical activity is an vital part of most horticulture therapy programs. Some enclosed gardens are also designed with looping paths allowing people to wander endlessly.
Healing gardens promote relaxation, restoration and horticulture therapy with a wide variety of plants. The aesthetics of nature are also appreciated in these gardens. It is very beneficial for people suffering with dementia and Alzheimer disease by encouraging positive memories. These gardens also help stimulate their senses and provide a safe place to wander.
What makes a garden therapeutic?
A therapeutic garden features sense stimulating plants focusing on various colours, aromas and textures. A grand entrance with wide paths and raised bed plants and containers are welcoming.
Furthermore, these gardens facilitate people-plant interactions. Hence, they target the needs of specific people in a horticulture therapy session. Not to mention this enables the therapist to use the garden to engage participants in activities.
An expert-designed garden needs horticulture therapy programs to unlock its full capability. With this in mind, most landscape designers and therapists work together to create gardens. With this intention they can achieve their goals of meeting people’s needs.
Careers in Horticulture Therapy
Working with plants brings so much joy. And helping others do the same is even better. Therapists create an enriching experience for people receiving their services. They use their extensive knowledge of horticulture therapy, plant and human science to provide therapy sessions.
Therapists need training in horticulture activities to enhance physical and mental well-being of clients. Further, many universities offer degrees specializing in horticulture therapy. Accredited Certificate Programs are also a popular option to pursue a career in horticulture therapy. What’s more, the coursework is taught by a registered therapist with a minimum experience of 3 years.
Upon completion of the coursework, you will be able to enhance the cognitive and emotional well-being of all kinds of people. Moreover, it helps you be analytical by developing leadership and people skills. Indeed, it’s vital for therapists to be resourceful and continuously develop their skills with professional trainings.
Moreover, Horticulture therapists have great patience, empathy and confidence to help people through their therapy sessions. They maintain therapeutic diagnostic skills and knowledge on therapy techniques throughout their career. Many therapists take their career to the next level by starting independent consultancy. However, most therapists work with rehabilitation teams as educators and community providers of horticulture therapy.
I hope this post has given you enough information on Horticulture therapy. Feel free to ask questions and share your experiences in the comments section below.
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