Common steps and sub-activities

Horticultural therapy

Horticultural therapy is another word now using by therapists to describe gardening as a way of curing people.  The activity is in some senses a sub-activity of:

  • Communing with nature
  • Exercising and keeping fit
  • Beauty, art and music - the garden as a work of art and beauty

 

Wikipedia

Horticultural therapy (also known as social and therapeutic horticulture or STH) is defined .... as the engagement of a person in gardening and plant-based activities, facilitated by a trained therapist, to achieve specific therapeutic treatment goals.

The visual aesthetics of plants are known to elicit feelings of inner peace, which generates positive emotions toward a meaningful appreciation of life. Direct contact with plants guides the individual's focus away from stress enhancing their overall quality of life. 

....horticultural therapy is an active process which occurs in the context of an established treatment plan. Horticultural therapists are specially educated and trained members of rehabilitation teams (with doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists and other) who involve the client in all phases of gardening, from propagation to selling products [sic], as a means of bringing about improvement in their life.

or not as the case may be.  I wonder why it is that money always has to come into the descriptions provided by Americans, as it is in this case?  Worse, accordong to Wikipedia, these therapists have introduced the added stress of obtaining qualifications - back to the rat race, back to the competition and all the things that probably made the person stressed in the first place.  So we ignore all the therapists and psychiatrists and the need for occupational therapists and instead we just garden - for fun, for food and for relaxation.

Money should not come into the equation if the objective is to heal and provide people with a stressless environment in which to enjoy plants and  possibly also eat the results of their labours.

Some background

Gardens have been used to help people heal for thousands of years.  The Japanese had their gardens, the Persians had their gardens and India had its gardens.  The Babylonians had their Hanging gardens.  Ancient Persians created gardens to soothe the senses by involving beauty, fragrance, flowing water, and cool temperatures, they also used them as symbolic features. 

Ancient Egyptian physicians prescribed walks around a garden for patients with mental illness.  In Europe, the monastic orders took over the healing role and every large monatery had its garden, used to grow food, medicines and as a place to meditate and be peaceful.  The Quakers then took over from them:

Wikipedia

The first modern documentation of horticulture being used as a treatment for mental health purposes was in the 1800s. Dr. Benjamin Rush discovered that field labor in a farm setting helped attain positive outcomes for clients with mental illness (Simson & Straus, 2003). This discovery led many hospitals in the western world to begin using horticulture as a means to start therapeutically treating patients with mental health and developmental disabilities. In 1817, the Asylum for Persons Deprived of Their Reason, now known as Friends Hospital, constructed an environment with landscaping, paths and a park atmosphere in effort to assist patients in their recovery. In 1879 Friends Hospital built the first greenhouse that was used for therapy (Simson & Straus, 2003).

During World War I and II, servicemen worked in gardens to improve functioning of injured limbs and increase mental function, but also to learn new skills and to provide food” (http://tiadjones.tripod.com/horttherapy.htm#d).

Believe it or not you can now get a degree in horticultural therapy at universities in America - Michigan State University,  Kansas State University, Clemson University,  and so on.

My Dad lived until he was 88, had three allotments for most of his working live, was mentally as sound as a bell right to the end, and there was not a therapist in sight - he managed all by himself.

 

 

Observations

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