Horticultural Therapy

Horticultural therapy helps participants improve their general well-being, also improves physical and mental health and encourages social interactions.

Course Code: BHT341
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Using Horticulture as Therapy

 

Horticultural therapists use horticultural activities as a tool for improving health. The therapy may be focused on either:

  • Improving or maintaining muscle function, and other aspects of physical wellbeing
  • Psychological wellbeing (eg. helping elderly people stay active in their declining years, increasing self-worth, providing an opportunity for social interaction, etc)
  • Providing a pathway to rehabilitation; or perhaps providing an alternative lifestyle.
  • Developing practical skills
  • Developing social skills
  • Rehabilitation practices

Sometimes programs are developed with a group focus, and at other times they are tailored for the needs of an individual.  The therapist may work with a small group, or they may work one on one with individuals. They often work closely with health care professionals or other service providers  (e.g. A physiotherapist may better understand the physical needs and limitations in some cases. A horticultural therapist working with a physiotherapist can develop a program of horticultural activities for an individual that is tailored to their needs and leads to effective rehabilitation. The benefit of this “joint” approach may be that the patient can be prescribed a pathway to recovery that does not seem like exercise, and which the patient is more motivated to adhere to).

 

A horticultural therapist needs to be part horticulturist, part health care worker, part counsellor, and sometimes other things beyond these.

They can work in medical or health care institutions (eg. Hospitals, Homes for Elderly), community centres, schools, shelters and halfway homes, prisons, and more.

Horticultural therapy is used for people with a wide range of cognitive, physical and social skills.

 

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Horticultural Therapy
    • Why Horticultural Therapy?
    • Who uses Horticultural Therapy?
    • Where can we use Horticultural Therapy Programs?
    • What are the Benefits of Using Horticultural Therapy
    • General Benefits
    • Physical Benefits
    • Psychological Benefits
    • What do you need to be a Horticultural Therapist?
    • Typical Jobs or Career Paths
    • Liability
  2. Understanding Disabilities and Communicating with people with disabilities - Communication, Teaching and Counselling Skills
    • The significance of communication skills to interacting with clients in a horticultural therapy situation
    • What are Intellectual disabilities/ intellectually challenged/ learning?
    • What are mental illnesses /mental health issues/ mental disorders?
    • What is Communication?
    • Effective Communication Skills
    • Self-Awareness
    • Self-Esteem
    • Listening
    • Teaching Skills
    • Learning Principles - What is Learning?
    • Teaching Strategies
    • Teaching Models
    • Recognising Learner’s Needs
    • Writing a Program
    • Counselling Skills
  3. Risk Management - Hygiene for vulnerable people; what extra risks are to be considered in a therapy situation - chemical, physical
    • Identifying potential risks to participants within a horticultural therapy program
    • Developing risk minimisation procedures
    • Risk Management for Vulnerable People
    • Workplace Health and Safety Issues
    • Identifying Hazards
    • Assessing sites and operations for risk
    • Conducting a Safety Audit
    • Risk Control Methods
    • Safety Precautions for a Horticultural Therapy Program
    • Manual Lifting
    • Rules for Using Tools
    • Personal Protective Equipment
  4. Accessibility and Activities for people with Mobility issues
    • Determine solutions to improve accessibility for disabled people in horticultural situations
    • Ensuring that horticultural therapy is offered in a way that is accessible to clients and their particular needs
    • Help With Manual Tasks
    • Examples of Adaptations in Tools and Equipment
    • Physical Support
    • Understanding Ergonomics
    • Working with other Professionals
    • Protective Gear
  5. Enabling the Disabled - with restricted motor skills
    • Modify horticultural practices to be suitable for disabled people
    • Enabling Gardening Activities
    • Gardening in Raised Beds
    • Staged Therapies
    • Horticultural Therapy for Mental Disorders
    • Effectiveness of Horticultural Activities
  6. Producing Things – Vegetables, Propagation, Fruit, Herbs
    • The Garden - A Growing Place
    • Planning the Crop
    • What to Grow?
    • Planning the Cropping Program
    • Crop Rotation
    • No-Dig Techniques
    • Propagation
    • Sowing and Transplanting Guide
    • Transplanting Seedlings
    • Crowns, Offsets and Tubers
    • Cold Frames
    • Fruit
    • Herbs
    • Propagating Herbs
    • Culinary Herbs Directory
  7. Growing in Containers -Vertical gardens, pots, Hydroponics
    • Growing Plants in Containers
    • Problems that can occur with Pots
    • Growing Fruit Trees in a Container
    • Growing Strawberries in Containers
    • Growing Vegetables in Containers
    • Vertical gardens
    • Hydroponics
    • A Simple Hydroponic System
  8. Creating a Therapeutic Garden
    • Learn to create gardens that are appropriate for horticultural therapy situations
    • Creating a Therapeutic Garden
    • Consulting with other Professionals
    • Garden Retreats for Rest and Recuperation
    • Sensory Gardens
    • Some popular Plants for a therapeutic garden
    • Landscape Principles
    • Design Elements
    • Plants to Avoid or to use under Certain Conditions
  9. Generating Income
    • Explore ways that horticultural therapy can become a partial or fully funded activity by generating income
    • Working with Others
    • Work Hours & Pay
    • Sheltered Workshops
    • Therapeutic Farms
    • Small Business Opportunities for Disabled People
    • Certification & Registration

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING HORTICULTURAL THERAPY?

There are many benefits to be gained from horticultural therapy. These benefits are both physical and psychological. 

General Benefits

People of any age can participate in horticultural therapy.

The horticultural therapist can individualise the work they do with a person, according to their abilities, so activities in horticultural therapy should be accessible for all.

For example, work areas can be made more accessible for people who have difficulties with their back or bending, so that they do not have to bend over work areas. Work areas can be lowered so people in wheelchairs can use them. They can also be lowered so that children can work on benches and so on. 

The location where horticultural therapy is carried out can also be individualised. For example, the area could be controlled so that children or vulnerable adults do not have access to dangerous plants or put plants in their mouths. Gardens can be made accessible for people with wheelchairs, mobility problems, impaired visions, and more.

Physical Benefits

Horticultural therapy can help people to:

  •  Improve their fine motor skills. We have fine and gross motor skills. Gross motor skills involve our larger muscle groups, such as when we dig, run or jump. Fine motor skills involve the use of our smaller bones and muscles, as we would in handling secateurs, sowing seeds, writing and so on.

  •  Increase muscular strength and muscle tone – being involved in gardening can help a person to increase their muscular strength. Even if they are not able to use some of their muscles, it can increase their muscle strength and tone in other areas, such as their arms, shoulders etc.

  •  Increase range of motion – Having to move around, dig, prune, sowing and so on can help increase the range of motion a person has.

  •  Improve coordination and balance – Being involved in gardening and horticultural therapy can help a person to improve their coordination and balance. Imagine digging, this requires the use of arms and legs, so requires a good range of coordination and balance. If a person cannot use their legs or arms, then the limbs that they do use will require increased strength and tone and also balance and coordination. 

    Therefore, horticultural therapy can increase a person’s physical health. 

Psychological Benefits

Horticultural therapy also has psychological benefits:

  • It can help increase a person’s self esteem. For example, a person who does not feel they are good at things involvement in gardening and horticulture can increase self esteem.

  • It can help increase their independence – It can help a person to learn new tasks, to work on their own, to learn more about plants and gardening. It can also help with their independence if they are able to transfer these skills to other environments and their own home. For example, growing plants and vegetables in their own home. 
  • It can also increase the observation skills a person uses. They have to become aware of how plants grow, how seeds should be planted and so on.

  • Horticultural therapy can also allow a person to make choices. It can help people feel control over their lives and empower them to make choices demonstrate independence.

  • Horticultural therapy can increase a person’s problem solving skills – when to plant certain crops, how, how deep, what type of soil, what do they do in less than ideal situations and so on? It can also help them to consider more about their own abilities. People can show great initiative. What if they find digging hard? Or planting seeds hard? The person and the horticultural therapist can look at ways in which they can become more involved, so aiding their problem solving skills also.

  •  It can also increase a person’s creativity, help them to think of how they do things, how they plant a garden, where is the best place to plant a particular flower, what would look best and so on.

  • Gardening and horticulture can also be a place where a person can let out their emotions or stress or anger.   Exercise can be a good release of anger and emotion and there is obviously exercise involved in gardening. Also, thinking about the plants and soil and what you are doing can be a good distraction from a stressful situation.

  • Horticultural therapy can also have social benefits, allowing the person to interact socially with others, which can also increase their self esteem, social skills and speech and language skills.

  •  By showing a commitment to living things, a person is taking responsibility for that work, that garden and also to working with others as part of a team or group.

  •  It can also help a person to deal with success and failure. A person may have many failures in their life, but gardening can help them to find ways to overcome failures. Because a plant does not flower one year or a vegetable crop does not grow as well as planned, this can be used to help the person to look at what they did (problem solving again) and how things could be improved. Was it the wrong soil? The wrong location? Was the weather too cold for the plants to survive? What could they do about that?

  •  It enables a person to commune with nature and to feel the benefits of doing so.

  •  It also allows the person to be inspired by others, to learn more about nature and their environment.

     

 

How Can This Course Help Me?

Horticulture therapy is a relatively new area of work and study. However, it is one which is set to blossom. The benefits of horticulture therapy can be seen in different populations from those rehabilitating from surgery, to prison inmates, to people with mental health disorders. Horticulture therapy provides a means of helping people develop social skills, improve physical mobility, and regain confidence. It is slowly but surely becoming more widely recognised as an efficacious form of therapy.

This course will be of particular interest to people wishing to get involved in either the practical side of therapeutic garden design or in delivering therapy programs. It is suited to people working in:

Horticulture therapy
Landscape gardening
Garden design
Psychotherapy & counselling
Caring roles
Teachers

ACS is an Organisational Member of the Association for Coaching (UK).

ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.

Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.

ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

ACS is a Member of the Permaculture Association (membership number 14088).

ACS is a Preferred Member Training Provider with the Australian Institute of Horticulture. ACS students meeting AIH criteria can join AIH as a Category 2 student member.

Long-term member since 1986.

Principal John Mason is a member of the ANZMH. ACS Students are invited to join

Principal John Mason has been honoured to be awarded a Fellow of Parks and Leisure Australia, having been an active member since 1974.

Our Principal John Mason, was awarded a fellowship by the Australian Institute of Horticulture in 2010

Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason has been a member of the International Scociety of Horticultural Science since 2003


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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer
, teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li

Maggi Brown

Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture

Yvonne Sharpe

RHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Rosemary Davies

B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing

Originally from Melbourne, Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Burnley, a campus of Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer.

She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe.

Nicola Stewart

BA(Hons); Dip.Pub; CIM Dip.Marketing; PGCE; Dip.Holistic Aromatherapy; Dip.Reflexology; Dip.Orton-Gillingham Multisensory Language Education; Masters in Education & Professional Studies/Research, PhD (underway)

Nicola worked in publishing before changing direction to teach Anatomy, Physiology and various complementary therapies in the UK’s post-compulsory sector for 16 years. She is the published author of 10 books, plus a range of magazine articles and has also ghost-written across a number of genres. When she is not working for ACS, she provides specialist literacy tuition for children with dyslexia.

Marie Beerman

B.Sc. Hort., M.Sc. Hort., Cert. III Ldscp., Dipl. Management, PDC

Over 12 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of MANY ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants"

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