Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural Therapy

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Horticultural therapy is the use of activities and plants to improve a client's physical, mental and spiritual health. Although this isn't a new form of therapy it has recently been introduced as an alternative holistic technique. For many years the Native Americans approached their health by looking at the relationship between nature and mankind. This therapy is a healing element that is used on those who may feel disconnected due to an illness, social problem, injury, disorder or psychological constraint. These treatments are created to help people improve their function in completing tasks and coping with change that may occur unexpectedly. Horticultural therapy consists of garden landscaping and purposeful use of plant related activity to promote wellbeing in the client.

Goals of Horticultural Therapy

Therapeutic Horticulture seeks out improvement in the client's physical, social, emotional and spiritual health. It is a form of therapy that is used to enhance spiritual wellbeing. The purpose is to help an individual improve health by assisting them in recognizing their purpose through achievement and improved mobility. It can help them connect with others and prevent social exclusion, improving individual focus and personal skills. By presenting them with outdoor activities it can focus their energy on the great outdoors through gardening and plant based goals. Therapists and social practitioners will use these outdoor activities to help develop clients through a structured program. By working with people who suffer from a range of disabilities and mental constraints it helps turn around a state of mind and feeling of isolation from society. The treatment goals target social, mental, physical and emotional health which is the target of many rehabilitation centers, treatment centers, botanic gardens and nursing homes.

When is Horticultural Therapy Used?

This form of therapy may be used when a patient has a disability or is going through treatment. Through the use of plants and gardening therapists can work with individuals to help improve their overall wellbeing and assist them in finding purpose. It may be used to help those recovering from health conditions and those dealing with degenerative illness, depression or stress. Therapeutic Horticulture can benefit patients diagnosed with heart disease, blindness or dementia. It is often used as a treatment for many who suffer from learning disabilities or physical constraints.

Some programs may be individually tailored. The most important component on the behalf of the therapist is having an encouraging and caring attitude that motivates the clients to develop spectrums physically, mentally and emotionally. It is used when outdoor activity is effective in one's health restrains. Many suffer from memory loss or lack of drive and horticultural therapy uses sensory stimulation to help counteract this lack of wholesomeness.

How Horticultural Therapy Works

As people interact with plants in a relaxing atmosphere it initiates a positive effect on their body, mind and spirit. When the mind and body are less stressed it's much easier to complete physical activities and achieve goals. There are social benefits that stem from horticultural therapy being that it is usually composed in a group setting. By spending time with people who also face health challenges it is a support system in itself. This therapy gives people an opportunity to reflect on the world around them by participating in planting tasks.

Horticultural Therapy can help with muscle tone by strengthening parts of the body and movement. It helps the participant improve physical coordination and finger movement – which is effective for those who have suffered from a stroke or brain injury. Through garden projects and specialized programs the horticultural therapists will help the individuals by allowing them to interact with others and set goals which can be accomplished through plant activity. It provides participants with a feeling of accomplishment, knowing that they are responsible for living breathing plants. The most prominent feeling that is obtained from Horticultural Therapy is feeling valued and needed within a community. Purpose and interconnection helps improve health and immunity function.

This therapy improves memory function by speaking with others and participating in conversation concerning personal lives, friends and family. The individual or group has the ability to set short term goals by caring for and keeping track of plants and flowers. It is often that the therapy is in a greenhouse setting which can help stimulate the participant's senses through touching, smelling, seeing beautiful colors and hearing aquatic sounds in ponds or fountain pieces. By feeling the warmth and energy that radiates from the plants and earth ground it helps the client relax and soak in nature's allurement.


Horticultural therapy. (2013). Retrieved from http://ahta.org/horticultural-therapy

Horticultural therapy services. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.chicagobotanic.org/downloads/therapy/HT_offsiteprograms.pdf

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