Horticultural therapists (generally called social and therapeutic horticulture (STH) practitioners within the field) use gardening, plants and horticulture to help individuals develop. They work with a wide range of people who are disabled or disadvantaged by age, circumstance or ability. Clients include those recovering from illness, people with learning and behavioural difficulties and people with mental ill health such as depression or dementia.
Horticultural therapists work with clients to promote health and well-being. Through individually tailored STH programmes and with caring and observant encouragement, they help clients develop across physical, cognitive, social and emotional spectrums.
Horticultural therapy is used in social, vocational and therapy programmes, providing outdoor activity and physical exercise in a supportive atmosphere. Additionally, horticultural therapy makes use of the passive qualities of nature to provide levels of sensory stimulus and impact that help towards achieving positive outcomes.
Horticultural therapy is an emerging profession that forms a large and culturally significant part of green care, the conceptual framework using other natural mediums for therapy such as care farming and ecotherapy.
Horticultural therapists work with small groups of people or with individuals on a one-to-one basis. Typically, therapists will spend three hours planning and evaluating their work and five hours of the working day working directly with clients to enable them to access horticulture as a therapeutic medium.
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