Social Therapeutic horticulture (STH) is the beneficial, structured intervention on which many of our projects are based. It harnesses the positive effects of engaging in social and meaningful activities in a natural environment, to work towards specific goals. These goals might include seeking to
- reduce anxiety,
- improve wellbeing and mental health,
- develop communication, thinking and problem solving skills,
- improve physical stamina, strength and dexterity,
- restore attention and focus
- feel more socially engaged
- improve skills and capabilities
- rediscover a sense of purpose and
- increase confidence and resilience.
Where individuals have a defined need, difficulty or disability, STH can be used as a medium through which to help them meet holistic, clinical and vocational goals.
Social therapeutic horticulture uses the concept of the garden as a protected and secure place to develop an individual’s ability to listen, to notice, to feel able to relax, and to feel positive and connected.
From that feeling of possibility other behaviours and capacities can grow – the ability to engage, to socialise, to plan and to learn any number of practical and life skills that will help people become more independent and feel more fulfilled.
Using gardening tasks and the growing cycle, our staff and volunteers work with individuals to co-produce a set of activities for each person or group, to improve their skills and wellbeing, and work towards the goals and outcomes they want to achieve. Decision making skills and planning are all part of this process.
Recent studies have shown how beneficial nature-based interventions can be, particularly when used in a structured therapeutic way by trained experienced professionals.
- Gardens and Health, implications for policy and practice – Kings Fund (2016)
- A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care (NECR204) – Natural England (2016)