Horticultural Therapy, also known as therapeutic gardens, sensory gardens, or healing landscapes, are utilized with many different patient populations as interventions or to enhance the therapeutic environment. A therapeutic garden is a plant-dominated environment purposefully designed to facilitate interaction with the healing elements of nature. Interactions can be passive or active depending on the garden design and users’ needs.
Horticultural therapy is utilized by trained clinicians in order to promote improved memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. Horticultural therapy can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance. Horticultural therapists are professionals with specific education, training, and credentials in the implementation of this intervention in order to optimize patient outcomes based on an individualized plan of care which is developed as part of the evaluative process in collaboration with the patient to outline meaningful goals to address through treatment.
There are seemingly infinite ways that gardening-related occupations can be woven into treatment plans for clients across all practice areas. Through occupational analysis, occupational therapists can select and then determine the appropriateness of a specific gardening-related activity for a client and develop measurable goals and objectives for the treatment plan because we are trained to understand the physical and behavioral characteristics of the clients we work with and how to adapt or remove barriers to their participation. Horticultural therapy affords the patient the opportunity to engage in therapeutically meaningful tasks with plants and garden-related activities.
It focuses on developing client-centered treatment plans and interventions that support active participation in horticulture-based occupations for clients who find interacting with plants to be meaningful. Interventions can range from meaningful, goal-oriented activities to addresses physical, psychosocial, cognitive, and sensory skills. Horticultural therapy also provides insight related to the health benefits associated with eating fresh produce. A horticultural garden can be used to work with clients to develop new skills within a healthy, highly motivating, multi-sensory environment.
To learn more about therapeutic gardens, please click on the following links or ask your therapist. We love questions and sharing what we’ve learned with our patients and our community, plus it keeps us on our toes!
American Society of Landscape Architects; Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network
Therapeutic Landscapes Network, A resource for gardens and landscapes that promote health and well-being
TherapeuticGarden Characteristics By Teresia Hazen, MED, HTR, QMHP