Research has proven the benefits of horticultural therapy in many areas:
- Improves strength, stamina and mobility
- Increases energy and endurance
- Exercises hand-eye coordination
- Encourages social interaction
- Improves coping skills and motivation
- Helps build good work habits and attitudes
- Reduces anxiety, stress, and tension
- Increases confidence and hopefulness
- Rewards nurturing behavior
- Stimulates senses through observing, touching, tasting, and smelling plants
- Improves concentration and ability to focus
- Teaches new skills and provides job training
- Improves problem-solving and planning skills
- Exercises the memory and promotes positive thinking
While people can benefit from simply viewing and growing plants, the benefits of people-plant interactions can be focused and enhanced with guidance from a horticultural therapist. Adaptive tools and therapeutic gardens can provide an even greater degree of accessibility and therapeutic benefit.
What Do Horticultural Therapists Do?
Horticultural therapy (HT) integrates therapy with gardening for the purpose of physical and mental rehabilitation. Horticultural therapists work with a wide variety of patient diagnoses, such as physical or emotional trauma, and people with mental illness, and with many different populations, from children to teenagers and adults to the elderly. Horticultural therapists evaluate the physical and mental disabilities of patients and tailor programs to promote physical therapy, education, rehabilitation, and relaxation. Professional horticultural therapists also work closely with doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and occupational therapists in designing individual care plans.
HT is a beneficial and effective therapeutic modality, used within a broad range of rehabilitative, vocational, and community settings. Horticultural therapists assist participants to learn new skills or regain those that have been lost. HT helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. In physical rehabilitation, a horticultural therapist can help a participant strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance. In vocational settings, horticultural therapists can help people learn to work independently, problem solve, and follow directions.
Where Do Horticultural Therapists Work?
Horticultural therapists work in gardens; vocational, occupational, and rehabilitation programs; hospitals; clinics and skilled nursing facilities; hospice and palliative care programs; correctional facilities; public and private schools; and assisted living and senior centers.