Horticulture therapy or garden therapy is a combination of nature and experiential therapy that uses gardening and other plant-based activities to improve people’s mental and physical health. A trained horticultural therapist will work with an individual or group of people to lead these activities and facilitate healing.
The Benefits of a Therapy Garden for Mental Health
Therapeutic gardening has been in existence for thousands of years and has a deep-rooted history of success, but has only recently become a more popular approach in mental health treatment. Healing gardens have been placed in both public and private settings throughout the nation. They have also been successfully used at nursing homes, addiction care centers, and other healthcare facilities.
Simply spending time in nature has been scientifically proven to promote total wellness. A therapy garden is designed to facilitate and increase these benefits. There are several psychological, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits linked to garden therapy including:
- Treating PTSD
- Alleviating anxiety
- Low-impact exercise
- Decreasing stress levels
- Facilitating social interaction
- Increasing confidence
- Improving mood
- Reducing depression
- Relieving anger
- Bettering memory and attention skills
- Mental clarity
- Bettering coordination and balance
- Providing a sense of purpose
- Creating a routine1
Horticulture Therapy at BHOPB
At Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches, our garden therapy strives to empower patients to be active participants in their treatment. We understand that there is no one way to heal, but therapeutic gardening for mental health may be an effective means of facilitating progress for some of our patients.
Our healing gardens were created by patients in our residential mental health program and continue to be maintained by these individuals with the assistance of our experienced therapists and care professionals. Because of our Palm Beach location, our patients are able to enjoy the Florida weather and we are lucky enough to have the perfect climate to grow various plants, herbs, and flowers all year round.
Therapeutic gardening gives patients the opportunity to get closer to nature. They can grow fresh fruits and vegetables for use in our cuisine as well as interact with butterflies, birds, and other wildlife attracted to the healing garden. These therapy gardens have served our patients as a sanctuary where they can find a much-needed distraction from their regular treatment programs. Patients can develop new skills and interests as well as explore their spirituality and raise self-awareness. Gardening can also provide patients with an increased sense of self-purpose and self-worth, especially for those who have no close friends or family.
While our horticulture therapy is designed with our mental health patients in mind, this program may also be helpful for those in our dual diagnosis program. Very few drug and alcohol addictions exist without the presence of a psychological disorder that has contributed to the substance abuse. Our Florida horticulture therapy programs play a crucial role in helping patients improve their mental health so that they can ultimately overcome their addictions for good. Not only will our horticulture program guide them through rehab and into recovery, but it can also give them a new passion or hobby to help keep them occupied and sober once treatment is complete.