What is horticultural therapy?
Today, HT is accepted as a beneficial and effective therapeutic modality within a broad range of settings. HT may be used to help participants learn new skills or regain those that are lost while helping to improve cognitive skills and socialization while decreasing anxiety and agitation.
Horticultural therapists are professionals with specific education, training, and credentials in the use of horticulture for therapy and rehabilitation.
Horticultural Therapy Today
The therapeutic benefits of gardening and garden environments have been documented since ancient times.
In the 19th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a psychologist, documented the positive effect working in the garden had on individuals with mental illness.
In the 1940s and 1950s, rehabilitative care of hospitalized war veterans significantly expanded acceptance of the practice.
No longer limited to treating mental illness, HT practice gained credibility and was embraced for a much wider range of diagnoses and therapeutic options. In the 1980s, the American Horticultural Therapy Association was developed to promote and develop the practice and its outstanding standards of practice.
"Horticultural therapy involves the use of gardening and plant related activities as tools to improve physical, intellectual, psychological and social well-being.
A horticultural therapist is a trained professional who utilizes horticulture in a structured, purposeful program to meet specific therapeutic and rehabilitative goals for individuals and groups.
A horticulturalist traditionally places emphasis on the health of the plant while the horticultural therapist emphasizes care for the person.”
Terrell Kennett and Rebecca Haller, HTM, Seeds for Success. 1999.