HORTICULTURAL THERAPY – A Unique Art of Healing Mind and Body
A famous American writer, O.Henry in 1907 wrote a short story. The main theme of it was “A plant helps a dying person to recover”. In modern times it is called horticultural therapy. Horticulture is used in many settings as a form of direct or indirect therapy. Horticultural therapy and therapeutic horticulture can be considered as the two sides of the same coin. The former is more formal and the latter is more informal.
Horticultural therapy is, “the use of plants as a medium by a trained professional to achieve certain clinically defined goals by the client”. It is an active process with prefixed goals. Four basic qualifying elements of horticultural therapy are it is done by a professional qualified for horticultural therapy, the client with a diagnosed problem, defined treatment procedure, or established treatment plan with a focus on horticultural activities and a treatment goal that can be measured and evaluated. It can take place in a horticulture therapy care institute or in the practice garden of a horticulture therapist. Healing garden, Green care farms are examples of horticulture therapy gardens.
Therapeutic horticulture is “the process through which individuals can improve their well-being through active or passive involvement in horticulture or plant-related activities”. Here the importance is for the well-being of the individual. Community gardens, allotment gardens, and back gardens are examples of horticulture gardens used in therapeutic horticulture. To sum up, these are different versions of the same idea with similar processes and goals but differ from one another in that one is medically prescribed other is not.
The various aspects of horticulture used in horticulture therapy are landscaping, nursery management, vertical gardening, bonsai making, terrarium making, polyhouse for year-round production, flower arrangement, growing plants in pots and grow bags, etc.
Horticulture therapy helps to improve one’s motor skills, cognitive abilities, social skills, observation skills, physical and psychological behavior, healing mind and body, etc. Also, it helps to earn something for a living. More than that in children it helps to improve self-confidence, team spirit, problem-solving abilities, etc. Altogether, horticultural therapy helps to restore the positive mood of an individual.