Horticultural Therapy (sometimes referred to as garden therapy or social and rehabilitative horticulture) involves the practice of growing and caring for plants specifically for therapeutic reasons. There are many time-tested benefits for anyone who participates in horticultural therapy programs, including recovering addicts. Studies published in Science Direct show that “gardening increases individual’s life satisfaction, vigor, psychological well being, positive effects, sense of community, and cognitive function.” Additionally, “reductions in stress, anger, fatigue, and depression and anxiety symptoms have also been documented.”
Other impressive benefits of horticultural therapy reported by Diane Relf, a professor of horticulture, include:
Benefits for Your Brain
- Developing new skills
- Increased vocabulary and communication ability
- Pursuit of curiosity
- Improved observational skills
- Potential career training
- Sensory and perception stimuli
Benefits for Your Mental Health
- Greater sense of self-worth
- More confidence
- Physical activity provides a socially acceptable stress release
- Promoting a sense of interest in the future
- An outlet for creativity
Benefits for Your Body
- Basic motor skills are developed
- Time outdoors promotes overall well-being
These benefits come to anyone participating in gardening, but come more readily and fully when a professionally trained therapist is there to guide the gardener and tailor a program that fits the unique needs of and challenges for each participating individual.
10 Horticultural Therapy Activity Ideas
Though there are hundreds of horticultural therapy activity ideas that can be enjoyed, here are 10 to get you started:
- Learn how to prune shrubs.
- Design your dream garden.
- Experiment planting seeds, bulbs, and sprouted plants.
- Identify and journal varieties of flowers.
- Put together a salad using garden vegetables only.
- Make cards using pressed flowers.
- Season with freshly cut herbs and freeze herbs for later use.
- Learn how to arrange flowers in a vase.
- Observe bees and butterflies doing their work.
- Have a garden party.
Where to Find a Horticultural Therapy Program
If you’re in the Malibu area, Summit Malibu offers a wonderful horticultural therapy program that allows residents to disconnect from the fast-paced world around them, and invites them to reconnect with nature so they can experience the nourishment of loving a living thing. If this sounds like it could benefit you or someone you love who is recovering from addiction, please contact Summit Malibu today!