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Concurrent Sessions 3
October 20, 2023 | 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Session 3.1 First Half  |  Session 3.1 Second Half  |  Session 3.2  |  Session 3.3 First Half  | Session 3.3 Second Half

Session 3.1 First Half (12:30–1:00 PM) |  Enhancing recovery for people who have experienced domestic abuse using nature-based therapy


This presentation will highlight research into how nature therapy might be used to support the recovery of victim-survivors of domestic abuse in respect of their health, well-being and resilience.

About the Speakers

Kristy Shanks

Kristy is a PhD candidate at the University of Essex where she is focused on exploring how nature-based therapy can be used to support the recovery of people who have experienced domestic abuse.

Session 3.1 Second Half (1:00–1:30 PM) | Start Slow and Let It Grow: “Plant Therapy” at Cortland Acres Nursing Home


With the US population aging, horticultural therapy (HT) for residents in skilled nursing/long-term care facilities (SNF/LTC) offers an important area of potential growth for the field. However, these are highly-regulated, and often resource-constrained, risk-averse institutional settings with complex dynamics. Much as many SNF/LTC residents want to garden and be outdoors, these dynamics can pose challenges to setting up and running HT programs. Moreover, as practitioners in an emerging field, many horticultural therapists (and aspiring ones) are eager to create their own opportunities. This presentation will share learnings from someone who has navigated such challenges to establish a new HT program.

About the Speakers

Lizz Frost Yocum, MSW, MPH, Cert HT

Lizz Frost Yocum, MSW, MPH, Cert HT, is a licensed Social Worker at the Cortland Acres nursing home in Thomas WV. She is the founder-owner of the Canaan Valley Flower Company, which is dedicated to bringing the beauty of flowers and the benefits of gardening to all ages and abilities. After 20+ years of international living and work in the development and humanitarian sectors, Lizz came home to WV and completed her certificate in horticultural therapy from HTI in 2021. Her focus is now on building a practice encompassing horticultural therapy programming, therapeutic gardens, flower farming and consulting.

Session 3.2 | Nature Sure is Awesome-Exploring Awe and It’s Uses in HT Practice


The experience of awe often results from experiencing the wonders of nature. New research supports physiological and psychosocial benefits from this experience. This session covers definitions, characteristics, and applications of awe in clinical practice.

About the Speakers

Matthew J. Wichrowski MSW, HTR

Matthew J. Wichrowski MSW, HTR has been practicing horticultural therapy at Rusk Rehabilitation NYU-Langone Medical Center for almost 30 years and is currently Clinical Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine. He teaches in the Therapeutic Horticulture Certificate Program at New York Botanical Garden, presents regularly at national and international conferences, and has won many awards for his work. Matt is also Editor-in-Chief of the AHTA’s Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture. His research interests center around the effects of nature on human health and wellness and his work has been published in a variety of media.

Session 3.3 First Half (12:30–1:00 PM) | Consultation Groups for Horticultural Therapy and Therapeutic Horticulture


The California Horticultural Therapy Network meets monthly to share accomplishments, ask questions, express concerns, process feelings, obtain resources, and explore curiosities related to horticultural therapy practice. Join us in learning about this model and how to replicate it.

About the Speakers

Ariel Schneider 

Ariel Schneider is a licensed clinical social worker in Santa Barbara, CA. She facilitates therapeutic gardening activities with adults in an inpatient psychiatric unit. She studied social work at Smith College where she had the opportunity to see horticultural therapy in action and completed her masters thesis on the topic entitled, Finding Personal Meaning: Vocational Horticulture Therapy for Individuals with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness. Since graduate school, she has had the opportunity to facilitate groups at the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital as well as Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital where she currently works. She completed her certificate in Horticultural Therapy through the Horticultural Therapy Institute in 2019.

April Ellis 

April Ellis is an LCSW at the geriatric psychiatric hospital located in the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living. She is pleased to be doing programs in the two therapeutic gardens she designed in conjunction with her internship. In the summer she will begin indoor programs with the skilled nursing units through the company ElderGrow. She was granted HTR status in March 2023.

Session 3.3 Second Half (1:00–1:30 PM) | Horticultural Therapy Education in Austria since 2006


In Austria, Horticultural Therapists have been trained at the university level since 2006. The interdisciplinary continuing education is leading in German-speaking countries. 300 graduates contribute their scientifically based knowledge and practical experiences in the various Horticultural Therapy fields. The university is a pioneer in the field of "Green Care" and garden therapy is also a component of the MSc course "Green Care". An annual symposium and research dialogue is held on the topics of garden therapy and Green Care as well as a magazine is published 4 times a year to showcase practical examples and new research.

About the Speakers

Birgit Steininger

Birgit Steininger has been educated within the areas: Master Degree in Horticulture, Teaching and Advising Certificate for Agriculture and Forestry, Certified in Continuing Education, Master Gardener, Certified Horticultural Therapist IGGT. She worked for 4 years as a Horticultural Therapist at a physical rehabilitation clinic and did an internship at the Rusk Insititute in New York. Birgit Steininger developed the Horticultural Therapy Certificate Course as well as the MSc Program Green Care. She is the director of the HT Certificate Course since 2006 and of the MSC Program Green Care since 2012. Birgit Steininger is teaching Horticultural Therapy in both programs, as well as giving workshops for vocational therapists, social workers, nurses and advising health care institutions on the implementation of HT. Since 2002 she has been organising annual Horticultural Therapy Conferences and Green Care Symposiums.