Alternative forms of therapy, such as music therapy, art therapy and more are becoming increasing popular and recognised by mainstream therapy providers.


In Australia, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will currently fund therapies, such as art therapy, music therapy and others.

For a therapy to be funded, “the support will be, or is likely to be, effective and beneficial for the participant, having regard to current good practice” (s 34(1)d).

You only have to think of how beneficial alternative therapies such as chiropractic therapy, art therapy and other forms of therapy can be to know that they can be effective.

But it is not just these therapies that can help.


Horticultural Therapy is a highly beneficial therapy. We have seen a lot of research recently on the benefits of spending time with nature to our mental and physical health. Horticultural therapy enables people to spend time among nature, in the garden, with plants and flowers.

If you are interested in supporting people to improve their mental and physical health, then why not consider horticultural therapy?

Before looking further at training in Horticultural Therapy, let’s consider why horticultural therapy is helpful and beneficial to people?


Why is Horticultural Therapy Beneficial?

Spending time outdoors gardening can help people to –

  • Spend more time with nature
  • Relax
  • Be active
  • Socialise
  • Exercise and burn calories
  • Reduce comfort eating
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
  • Feel positive after growing their own food
  • Reduce stress
  • Sleep better
  • Improve focus and attention
  • Reduce feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Help people to maintain stability and a routine in their lives
  • Absorb vitamin D, which is essential for us to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which we need to build bone

The garden can be a place of refuge. A time to find some peace and quiet and spend time with nature. There are also the obvious benefits to our physical and mental health.

You do not always need a garden to do horticultural therapy though.

People can garden –

  • With house plants
  • Vertical gardening
  • On balconies
  • Join community gardens, gardening clubs etc.

Horticultural Therapy is suitable for a range of clients

Most people can get involved in gardening in some way.  Sometimes it can be a small step. For example –

  • Encouraging a person with clinical depression to simply sit outside in the sunshine and look at the greenery around them. Then moving on to encouraging them to smell and touch the plants. Then going on further eg. planting seeds, watching them grow, perhaps pruning etc. Small steps can build up to a big change in how a person feels.
  • People with physical disabilities can use adapted equipment or raised flower beds to enable them to access the plants and soil more easily. Paths can be adapted to be suitable for wheelchairs.
  • A person with dementia might enjoy sitting in the garden and spending time doing things that they did in the past.
  • A person who has vision difficulties could enjoy the feeling of soil and plants, planting seeds, smelling scented plants etc.
  • It can help people to recover and rehabilitate after a long illness or operation.

These are just some examples. There are many more opportunities for working with individuals to support their mental and physical health through gardening and horticulture.

So basically, a horticultural therapist can work with any client who enjoys horticulture and gardening.  Also, it’s not just limited to people who currently enjoy gardening and horticulture. Even people who are not interested in this at the moment can be encouraged to develop an interest.

  • Planting seeds and watching flowers or vegetables grow can be beneficial.
  • Feeling pride at what they have produced.
  • Finding stability and routine by gardening at regular times. For example, once a week in their own garden or on their balcony. Watering their own house plants.
  • Socialising by attending a horticultural therapy group or community garden.

Things don’t always go right, of course. A plant might die or never grow. Pests can attack plants. All of these things do happen, but the negative things can also help people to develop resilience and an understanding that things do sometimes fail or die. But we can continue, planting and growing new plants.

Could you be a horticultural therapist?

If you would like to help people and want to train in horticultural therapy, consider –

  • Are you passionate about  home gardening?
  • Are you enthusiastic and can share that enthusiasm with others?
  • Do you want to help others and make a difference to their lives?
  • Are you understanding and empathic?
  • Are you good with people?
  • Are you fit and capable?
  • Do you have good leadership skills?
  • Do you have an understanding of mental and/or physical health difficulties?
  • Do you have a good knowledge of horticulture and gardening? (If not, don’t worry, we do have courses in gardening and horticulture that will take you through right from the start).


Do you need formal training?

You do not need formal training to work in horticultural therapy, but you do need a good knowledge of the points we mentioned above. 

However, it is important to understand what horticultural therapy is, how it works, examples of types of activities and so on. This is where our course in horticultural therapy will help.


In our course, you will learn about -

  • What is horticultural therapy?
  • Possible clients.
  • Benefits of horticultural therapy
  • Communication
  • Teaching
  • Counselling Skills
  • Working with people with disabilities
  • Identifying potential risks and risk management
  • Developing activities
  • Producing and growing
  • Growing in containers
  • Simple hydroponics
  • Vertical gardening
  • Creating a therapeutic gardening
  • Earning an income from horticultural therapy

Please bear in mind that this is not an introduction course to gardening or horticulture.  


ACS Distance Education was established in 1979 by John Mason, a world expert in gardening and horticulture.  Along with his team of horticulturalists and psychologists, he has developed this intensive horticultural therapy course.

The added benefit is that it is also studied online, so you can start at any time.

You can also work at your own pace.

Our experienced and enthusiastic tutors are there to help and support you as you develop, improve and increase your knowledge of horticultural therapy.


If you would like to

  • help people to improve their mental and physical health
  • work outdoors
  • get satisfaction and pride in your work

Then this could be the new career for you.


For more information you can contact our free course counsellors who can help you choose the correct course for your needs.  


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