What is Horticultural Therapy?

What is Horticultural Therapy?

Part of Ep. 2006 Urban Gardening

Horticulture Educator Mike Maddox gives us both the official and unofficial definition of Horticultural Therapy and explains how it is used in medicine and in our communities.

Premiere date: Jul 01, 2012

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley Ryan:

I have a passion for visiting gardens accessible to people of all abilities and all ages. I've visited garden designed for people using wheelchairs, vision impaired, hospital healing gardens and gardens in people's own backyards. I am with Mike Maddox of Rock County UW?Extension. Mike, now I'm bringing it closer to home. I have a dislocated shoulder. This all falls under horticultural therapy, I think. Can we find a therapist for me in this situation?

 

Mike Maddox:

For your shoulder? Very possibly.

 

Shelley Ryan:

For maybe not falling down anymore?

 

Mike Maddox:

Let's just take a moment to define what horticultural therapy is. We've been using the term a lot lately, but I think we need to provide a little bit of clarity. The American Horticultural Therapy Association defines horticultural therapy as the process in which a medical doctor, a registered horticultural therapist, and you as the patient, work to achieve some sort of goal for your own improved well being.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Strengthening my arm or something in that category.

 

Mike Maddox:

Right, in the case of your shoulder instead of going to a physical therapist and just using rubber bands, they would design a program to work on your strength and mobility in your shoulder by doing certain garden tasks.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Doing physical exercises with plants.

 

Mike Maddox:

Correct. It would be structured in a way that there would be evaluations to see if you're reaching those goals and improving.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Progressing. That is completely different than what I've been doing, which is visiting gardens that are accessible to all sorts of people.

 

Mike Maddox:

Right, but there's definitions for that, too. You take the words and flip them around to therapeutic horticulture, and you have a totally different definition.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Okay.

 

Mike Maddox:

This is what they define as garden spaces and programs in these areas just to engage people outdoors in the landscape getting them connected to plants so they can still achieve that well being.

There's no predefined goals. There's no therapist out there measuring anything. They're just programs created to get people to interact with the landscapes around them.

 

Shelley Ryan:

So, a garden that's accessible to people in wheelchairs, it gets them outdoors let's them enjoy the magic of the outdoors.

 

Mike Maddox:

Gardens in hospitals, gardens associated with schools, these are all spaces designed just to bring groups of people out into them for engagement.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Okay, so that's therapeutic horticulture.

 

Mike Maddox:

Correct, but the definition continues. There's also what's called social horticulture, or sometimes called community horticulture. We see this with the Master Gardener program and garden clubs all over. These are opportunities in which a group of people come and maybe they do a garden project at a botanic garden or in a park, or in a community garden, and they're doing this task and at the same time, they're talking. They're talking about what's going on in their neighborhood. They're talking about what's going on in their lives. There's that sort of connectivity among the people but there're doing it while gardening.

 

Shelley Ryan:

The community benefits and the individuals are also getting therapy just by being together.

 

Mike Maddox:

There's still one more type of definition. This is called vocational horticulture. These are programs designed to teach individuals job skills using gardening as that conduit, or maybe they're being led into jobs in the green industry themselves by participating in vocational horticulture programs.

 

Shelley Ryan:

So they're learning new skills that they can hopefully use in the field of gardening.

 

Mike Maddox:

For their own independence.

 

Shelley Ryan:

And the future. You mentioned hospitals. That's one thing that intrigues me. You see a lot more hospitals adding healing gardens to their landscape. They're also seeing the benefits of gardening.

 

Mike Maddox:

There's a lot of research that's been coming out that supports the connection between people and plants, and how interacting with green space improves everyone's well being.

 

Shelley Ryan:

Something you and I have known all along.

 

Mike Maddox:

Most definitely.

 

Shelley Ryan:

So this is why maybe gardening is the number one hobby in the country. And will probably always continue to be.

 

Mike Maddox:

Let's keep it that way.

 

Shelley Ryan:

What other hobby can feed you, heal you and is good for your spirit? For more information and food dehydrating recipes please check out our website at: wpt.org then click on The Wisconsin Gardener. I'm Shelley Ryan. Thanks for watching. Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided in part by the Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.

EPISODE SEGMENTS+
EPISODE RESOURCES+

Funding for The Wisconsin Gardener is provided, in part, by The Wisconsin Master Gardener Association.