Healing Through Plants
Horticultural Therapy is a facile method of healing by engaging patients in garden and garden related activities. The vastness of nature has magical ways of healing without pain. Plants are the natural healers. Just being among them will bring balance to the human race. Horticultural Therapy is a therapy offered to participants by which healing happens through their interactions with plants. It is administered by a trained Horticultural Therapist. A Horticultural assistant can assist a therapist or counselor to offer practical service of Horticultural Therapy. Horticulture Therapy uses certain techniques to enhance this quality of healing and modes of absorbing and offers patients a therapy that they will find easy and joyous to take up to heal.
Horticultural Therapy (HT) is a remedial treatment which is centred on the therapeutic benefits of plants. It is a multidisciplinary subject which draws from psychology, physiotherapy and agriculture (especially horticulture), along with alternative therapies such as aroma therapy and colour therapy. The objective of HT is to restore and maintain optimal physical and mental fitness. Physical fitness in this context primarily revolves around the proper functioning of the five senses. On the other hand, mental fitness revolves around one’s capacity to face obstacles to overcome them rather than being in denial of them or trying to hide from them. When one’s physical and mental health is good, the person’s quality of life is good
Selected gardening activities helps to improve the physical skills of the participants. The activities and how to approach the method will depend on patients’ needs. Craft activities helps to improve the mental strength and creativity. Card making, twig toys making, accessories making using natural materials and terrarium like activities boost their self esteem and self confidence. Hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, distraction from pain are some of the benefits from these activities. Color, fragrance and interesting installations can make much impact on human emotional system and cognitive skills.
Healing in nature has existed from the time Man evolved on this planet. Kings used gardens for soothing and relaxing their minds. Monasteries and temples, were healers cured patients, had lovely gardens that were therapeutic in nature. Later it became more popular during the time of world war I and II. Dr. Benjamin Rush used horticultural therapy for injured soldiers to make them forget pain and to help them restore their physical and mental health.
Benefits of Horticultural Therapy:- Working in nature can help to get various physical, mental, cognitive and social benefits. Caring for plants will make people more committed to other living creatures and themselves. Gardening also helps to improve behavioral impact.
Physical Benefits:- Working in a garden will strengthen patients’ muscles and improve fine and gross motor skills. Indoor and outdoor activities enhance flexibility, coordination, body balancing, hand- eye coordination and vocational skill developments.
Mental Benefits:- HT activities help to overcome stress and tension. Skill-developing activities improve their self-esteem and self-confidence. HT makes patients more comfortable in society and enables them to live independently.
Social benefits:- HT enhances the social commitment in the patients. Community gardening and group HT activities improves communication and social interaction skills.
Cognitive Benefits:- Horticultural activities helps to enhance attention span of the participant. Fragrance and color of flowers and leaves will help to recall the past memories of the patients and also offer peace and relaxation.
Nature and the garden become a huge health sink that can help alleviate the condition of many mental and physical ills.