Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 14 - 2003


Horticultural Therapy for Persons with Dementia: Utilizing an Environmental Press Perspective to Integrate Theory and Research
Christina M. Gigliotti, MS, Shannon Jarrott, PhD, and Diane Relf, PhD

This paper integrates and synthesizes research articulating the need for and design of therapeutic activities for persons with dementia and the literature from the field of horticultural therapy pertinent to older adults. In this paper, the Theory of Environmental Press (TEP), which promotes individuals achieving optimum adaptation levels, is applied to the practice of horticultural therapy for persons with dementia. The adaptation level represents an appropriate person-environment fit and attainment of this zone is demonstrated by positive affect and adaptive behavior. According to the TEP, when utilizing horticulture as a treatment modality the therapist can either modify the environment, the demands on the person’s competence level, or both to assist persons to reach the desired adaptation level. Applying theory to research development is essential in order to clarify the appropriate outcome measures, independent variables, and research designs to use in a study. Therefore, research that fails to utilize theory often does little to contribute to the advancement of the field. This paper offers an environmental press perspective to apply to research on horticultural therapy for persons with cognitive impairment.

Physiological and Emotional Influence of Cut Flower Arrangements and Lavender Fragrance on University Students
Mingwang Liu, PhD, Eunhee Kim, PhD and Richard H. Mattson, PhD

Physiological and emotional responses were recorded to comprehensively determine visual and olfactory influences of cut flower arrangements and lavender fragrance (Lavandula angustifolia) on university students as compared to the absence of floral products. For female participants, visual effects of the cut flower arrangements and olfactory effects of the lavender fragrance significantly lowered beta brainwave and electrodermal activities suggesting more relaxation and less physiological arousal. Olfactory effects of the lavender fragrance resulted in significantly less sadness and anger/aggression of female participants indicating positive emotion. For male participants, olfactory effects of the lavender fragrance produced significantly higher electrodermal activity suggesting less relaxation and more physiological arousal. Visual effects of the cut flower arrangements significantly reduced fear of male participants indicating positive emotion.

Nurse-Client Collaboration in Designing an Outdoor Healing Space
Emily Diehl Sclenker, PsyD, RN, CHN

Outdoor healing spaces extend the therapeutic milieu, traditionally an indoor venue for patients, into the world outside the walls of the institution. Such spaces, in the form of healing gardens, offer emotional, psychological, and even physical opportunities for clients and staff to progress on their journeys to wellness. The author collaborated with a group of inpatients on a forensic mental health unit. This design team employed the components of color, visual and tactile texture, light and shade contrast, movement, sound, and human perception to create a stress-reducing, safe outdoor space. There was a subsequent decrease in agitated, acting-out, and combative patient behaviors.

Horticultural Therapy for Patients with Eating Disorders at the Homewood Health Center
Sharon Stewart, RN

This article demonstrates the value of horticultural therapy in the recovery of clients with eating disorders at the Homewood Health Centre. The program is described including examples that illustrate how the horticultural therapy process is applied and how the program responds to the special needs of clients with eating disorders. The role of staff and volunteers is briefly discussed. Examples of horticultural therapy projects demonstrating opportunities for client creativity, emotional growth, and healing are provided.

Experiencing a Garden: A Healing Garden for People Suffering from Burnout Diseases
Ulrika A. Stigsdotter and Patrik Grahn

A healing garden is being laid out at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences’ Alnarp campus. The garden is intended to serve several purposes. It will offer horticultural therapeutic treatment programs for people diagnosed as having had burnout disease for an extended period. An interdisciplinary research program will study how the garden functions for these people. Scientists will test different design hypotheses connected with the garden as well as different forms of horticultural therapy. The garden will also serve as an object of study for students. This article describes and discusses the project’s background and the process leading to the final design of the garden.

An Analysis of Registered Horticultural Therapists
Candice A. Shoemaker, Ph.D.

A survey of registered horticultural therapists was conducted in the fall of 2001 to gain insight on where the profession currently stands. A ten-question survey included questions on current employment, educational activities, current professional issues, and demographics. Just over half of respondents (53.8%) were practicing horticultural therapy. Fifty-four percent of respondents reported earnings between $25,000 and $50,000 annually and approximately 75% were between 40 and 59 years old. Registered horticultural therapists who responded are a highly educated group with 68% of the respondents having at least some additional education beyond their Bachelor’s degree. The most significant need mentioned regarding the profession over the next ten years could be categorized as recognition: by the healthcare system and insurance companies as a legitimate therapeutic modality and through board certification or licensure, better pay and job security, and healthcare reimbursement.

Horticultural Therapy and Infection Control in the Healthcare Environment
Nancy Chambers, HTR

The restorative power of nature has been known to man since ancient times. Early healthcare facilities incorporated gardens and outdoor activity to nourish mind and body. Conversely, modern hospitals are designed to exclude nature because exposure to plants, soil, and even fresh air is thought to increase the patient’s risk of infection. Horticultural therapy, established in 1973, is a rapidly growing profession that is intent on reestablishing the beneficial links between nature and health. In this article a horticultural therapist examines what evidence exists to suggest that plants and soil cause infection in hospitals. Her conclusion, based on a review of the literature and her own 17 years of experience at Rusk Institute, is that plants and soil pose very little risk of infection if handled properly. For most patients, exposure to plants, gardens, or horticultural activities has healthful benefits that far outweigh any risk of infection.