Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 25.1 - 2015


A Literature Review of Nature-Based Therapy and its Application in Cancer Care
A. Cutillo, N. Rathore, N. Reynolds, L. Hilliard, H. Haines, K Whelan, A. Madan-Swain

Introduction: Gardening benefits various disease states; however, garden therapy for adult and pediatric cancer patients has been largely unstudied.

Method: Of the 535 articles generated, 18 articles met selection criteria and were reviewed .

Results: Positive effects from garden therapy in the adult cancer population include enhancement of direct attentional functioning and quality of life. In the sparse literature available on pediatric cancer patients, gardens relate to decreased fear responses and improved physical well-being.

Conclusion: We propose a study that educates the caregivers of cancer patients on gardening techniques and healthy eating habits through web-based modules and hands-on gardening experience. Based on the evidence in this review, we believe that garden therapy can help to alleviate caregiver burden, aid in coping, and promote healthy lifestyles for both patients and caregivers.

The Theoretical and Therapeutic Paradigm of Botanical Arranging
Cara S. Montgomery, MSW, MA and Janet A. Courtney, PhD, LCSW

This paper presents a therapeutic activity titled botanical Arranging (BA). It draws its theoretical model from the literature and research of art therapy, ecopsychology, and horticultural therapy.  BA is focused on the use of cut flowers, greenery, and other botanical ephemera as a metaphorical and artistic modality. A practitioner engages with one or more clients in facilitating the creation of simple arrangements of organic materials as an art product. Led in a supportive manner by a facilitator, the activity may yield the following results: 1) the materials are attractors and draw the client toward participation, 2) the client will experience a process of restoration or reduction in stress response, and 3) the client will report an increase in positive mood at the completion of the session. The phenomenological perspective of the therapy also allows the client to view the art composition as an independent entity, with form and meaning distinct from the creator. The facilitator assists the client in exploring the art arrangement for embedded meanings. The process of BA, as in other nature based therapies, reaches the whole person including emotional, psychological, spiritual, and kinesthetic processes.

Veteran to Farmer Programs:  An Emerging Nature-Based Programming Trend
Lesley L. Fleming, MA, HTR

Veterans returning from Post 9/11 conflicts transitioning into civilian life are faced with multiple issues; health challenges both physical and psychological, re-integration into society, and suitable employment. The Department of Labor reported that as of May 2010, over 20% of young veterans were unemployed (USDA, 2013). In 2013 The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization reported that unemployment among Post 9/11 veterans was three points higher than the national average, over 50% suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with even more widespread psychological challenges due to combat duty. Compounding the problem, there is a nine-month wait for disability benefits for those who can’t work and a backlog of more than 420,000 benefit claims in the VA system (Brasch 2013, Lowitt, 2014).

Programs and services addressing this transition from military to civilian life for Post 9/11 veterans have been developed. In particular, veterans’ programs that use farming in rehabilitation, vocational training, and career redirection address some of the challenges of transitioning into civilian life. These programs seem to appeal not only to the 45% of armed service members from rural America (USDA 2013), but also to other veterans, government organizations, and educational institutions. Veteran to farmer programs have been gaining momentum since 2007 when they began to emerge. A significant benchmark for such programs was reached when the national Farm Bill, passed in February 2014, identified veterans to farmers as a specific group eligible for agriculture programs and benefits. A review of veteran to farmer programs may provide health service practitioners a more in-depth understanding of the Post 9/11 population and of new nature-based programming models that address the multi-faceted dimensions of their health and well-being.

Book Review: Digging for Victory-Horticultural Therapy with Veterans for Post-Traumatic Growth by Joanna Wise
Reviewed by Matthew Wichrowski, MSW, HTR