About Horticultural Therapy
and Therapeutic Horticulture
Horticultural Therapy (HT) is a formal practice that uses plants, horticultural activities, and the garden landscape to promote well-being for its participants. HT is goal oriented with defined outcomes and assessment procedures. HT sessions are administered by professionally trained Horticultural Therapists. Research indicates that HT is proven to be beneficial in a wide variety of healthcare, residential, school, and rehabilitative settings.
Therapeutic Horticulture (TH) is the purposeful use of plants and plant-related activities to promote health and wellness for an individual or group. A TH program leader is trained to use horticulture to promote well-being but goals and outcomes for individual participants are not clinically documented.
Both HT and TH recognize the positive benefits of the interaction between people and plants and gardens to improve cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
In Canada, horticultural therapy has been used increasingly as an evidence-based practice over the past sixty years. Care of hospitalized war veterans after World War II greatly expanded the use of gardening and horticultural activities in structured, rehabilitative programs. Now a discipline taught and practiced throughout the world, HT is used in a diversity of settings and cultures.
More information can be found on the website of the American Horticultural Therapy Association which provides a comprehensive and helpful Position Statement about various terms and concepts associated with HT, TH, and therapeutic garden design.
Two other extensive on-line resources for information about HT and TH are Thrive, based in the United Kingdom, and the International People-Plant Interaction Resource Centre of the University of Hawaii.
Further sources for research on HT and TH
For an international list of websites that provide further information about therapeutic horticulture and the practice of horticultural therapy, with an emphasis on evidence based research, please download the following file Horticultural Therapy and Therapeutic Horticulture - International Websites for Research
Horticultural Therapy as a career
For those seeking information about horticultural therapy as a career please see the links on the HT World News page and a comprehensive occupational profile that can be accessed through various pages referenced on the summary page for Horticultural Therapy at the Association of Graduate Career Advisory Services based in the United Kingdom. Much of the information in this document is pertinent to the experience of those who work in HT in Canada.
"Gardening is fundamentally an act of enormous hope because everything you do in the garden is for the future."
Barbara Frum, 1937—1992, Canadian Broadcast Journalist