Therapeutic Interventions

Horticulture Therapy

Horticulture as a Therapeutic Medium

Whilst most people will be familiar with the notion of gardening being a pleasant and relaxing pastime, the concept of deliberately working with plants to help to maintain or improve a person’s level of functioning may not be so well known or understood.

Child receiving Horticulture Therapy In SchoolHorticulture Therapy in School

Being surrounded by nature and nurturing plants is increasingly being recognised to have beneficial effects at several levels;

  • Research shows that just being near plants reduces indicators of stress and anxiety, even if one isn’t actively engaged with or aware of them.
  • Other studies have proven that plants are extremely good at gaining and holding the involuntary fascination of the beholder. Fascination is known to be mentally restorative. Thus simply working with or observing plants is in itself therapeutic and is usually perceived as being enjoyable and rewarding.

Given this ‘natural attraction’ for most people, the processes of nurturing plants can be deliberately used in a structured and planned way to further enhance the potential benefits to an individual:

  • It provides an opportunity to engage in a practical, purposeful and nurturing activity.
  • The wide range of tasks involved in growing plants make it an ideal, practical medium to develop a wide range of physical and mental skills, such as hand-eye co-ordination and attention span.
  • Plants and nature can be used as metaphors and symbols for events in our own lives. For example, notions of old and new, same and different, good and bad, life and death, success and failure are all central to the process of growing plants, and often dominant themes in human life. In addition, horticulture can provide a non-verbal form of interacting, or coming to terms with the inexpressible.

Horticulture is very well suited both to educational settings, and for use with those who have suffered trauma, since it can be beneficial at all of these different levels, and if the psychotherapeutic approach is used, it can be particularly powerful.

Just such an approach is being used with pupils in Manchester, who have been identified as having significant issues or presenting behaviours, in order to try to address the difficulties that they may have in coming to terms with their past and learning to adjust to their present situation.


For more information about how we can offer Horticulture Therapy to students in your school, contact us online or call Deidre McConnell on 0844 967 1111.

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