Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 27.2 - 2017


The Use of Sensory Perception of Plants in Horticultural Therapy of Alcohol Addiction
Pétra Berger and Torsten W. Berger

Positive emotions initiate upward spirals toward enhanced emotional well-being. Cultivation of plants as part of a strategy for personal change proved to be an effective rehabilitation tool for persons with alcohol use disorders (addicted persons). We hypothesized that only specific plants provoke positive emotions via touching, seeing, smelling and tasting, and ranked the sensory perception of plants by alcohol addicted and healthy persons, based upon the frequency of associated feelings. Each participant selected one favored plant per sensory group and expressed the plantinduced emotions, desires and memories. A preferential plant selection was recorded both for the addicted as well as for the healthy group. Alcohol addiction affected the selection of specific plants within each sensory group significantly. The most frequently selected plant per sensory group for the addicted- and healthy persons, respectively, was: sunflower versus chili pepper (seeing); lavender versus lemon balm (smelling); sweet basil versus wild chive (tasting). Both addicted and healthy persons favored the woolly hedgenettle via tactile perception. For these plants associated positive feelings (emotions, desires, memories) dominated over negative feelings. However, it is remarkable that the stinging nettle (touching) and the chrysanthemum (smelling) were preferentially selected (second rank) by persons with alcohol use disorders, though negative feelings dominated over the associated positive feelings. Revisiting painful memories via selection of these so-called indicator plants may help the addicts to learn new, positive behaviors. Healthy persons related the sensory perception of the two favored plants with significantly more positive but less negative feelings and the number of total answers (feelings) was significantly higher as well. The fact that the felt emotions, desires and memories, provoked by sensory perception of plants, were not different between addicted and healthy persons is considered a positive finding of this study. This indicates that connectedness to nature has not been disturbed by alcoholism. Activating these resources in order to trigger positive emotions is a main goal in horticultural therapy with addicts. Hence, we conclude that those plants, which provoke positive feelings, should be used in therapeutic horticulture.

Benefit Nature, Benefit Self, & Benefit Others: Older Adults and their Volunteer Experiences of Engagement in a Conservation Themed Urban Park
Mark Alan Christie, MA 

This paper, utilizing a qualitative methodology, offers further insight into the concept of restorative natural environments by investigating the experiences of five retired and semi- retired volunteers (mean age 65.6 years) involved with a community conservation themed project in an urban park in the north of England, United Kingdom. The volunteers were purposely selected based on their long-term engagement with the specific conservation project. The study was comprised of data collected through interviews and a focus group in the park setting at various timelines throughout the project. Thematic analysis identified three overarching themes: perceived health benefits from participation in a nature based activity; self-reported enhancements to personal, social and community capital; and motives for initial engagement and sustained participation. Various factors relating to how volunteer participation was sustained were highlighted, including: empowerment, social connectedness, access and purposefulness, as well as a non-pressurized activity— with implications for the design of similar community-based ‘green exercise’ interventions. Findings further suggest that involvement in conservation-themed volunteering appears to bestow ‘green transformational’ outcomes for the individual, group and community, manifested by perceived enhancements to personal, social and community capital, as well as overall health and wellbeing. Green transformations induced positive outcomes, such as assisting individuals make the transition into retired life; establishing new social networks; enhancing mental health; contributing to the renewal of the park; and the establishment of a new ‘Friends of the Park’ group to help fundraise for future small-scale projects. Projects and initiatives of this ilk may therefore be beneficial in respect of promoting public health improvements for individuals attracted to more unorthodox and natural approaches.

Laughter Therapy and Horticultural Therapy: Cross-Pollination
Lesley Fleming, MA, HTR

Therapies of all kinds have emerged in the past decade seeking to improve human health and well-being. Laughter therapy, like art therapy, pet therapy, meme therapy and music therapy have captured the attention of those in the therapeutic community as well as the general public. Some of these therapies have been integrated into medical and rehabilitative services. A basic understanding of these therapeutic modalities can broaden practitioner’s understanding, be they used as complementary or stand alone treatment options. Examining how two therapeutic interventions—laughter therapy and horticultural therapy—intersect can promote effective applications for both disciplines.

Raising Awareness of Horticultural Therapy with the Seed of “National Horticultural Therapy Week” and Roots of New Jersey Agriculture
Laura DePrado, B.S., HTR

Promoting National Horticultural Therapy Week, held the third week of March since 2006, has been an AHTA ritual for more than ten years. In 2004 Lana Dreyfus, AHTA board member and President of the Chesapeake Chapter, campaigned for NHTW. Members of AHTA were encouraged to contact their elected Representative and Senators to request their support for this resolution. Congressman David Price, 4th District of North Carolina, sponsored Congressional Resolution Number 92 in March 2005 that supported the recognition of National Horticultural Therapy Week (NHTW) during 2006.

Interdisciplinary Professional Development, CEUs and Horticultural Therapy: The Michigan Model
Lesley Fleming MA, HTR, Kathy Carroll MS, HTR, Jodi Douglas BS, CTRS, CDP, Cathy Flinton BS, HTR

Professional development provides initial and continuing education for the maintenance and improvement of professional competencies, compliance with professional regulatory requirements and professional registration, as well as metrics for advancing careers. Many professions have professional development requirements and use continuing education units as a standardized mechanism for documenting and authenticating continuing education. These are most often available through recognized communities of practice or specific discipline.

Interdisciplinary professional development, a distinct subset, is defined as continuing education where one or more disciplines participate in courses, workshops, lectures, case studies or other modes of learning. Interdisciplinary professional development recognizes and supports working relationships among disciplines, practices and services where competencies overlap, and where collaboration is valued, particularly where clients present with multifactorial needs, and where knowledge of other disciplines can elevate client services (Satin, 2008).

Instances where horticultural therapy organizations initiate training specifically designed as interdisciplinary has limited incidence and practice. One such model, designed for professionals from two therapeutic disciplines—recreational therapy and horticultural therapy—was conceived and delivered by the Michigan Horticultural Therapy Association in 2017. An examination of this model informs practices in multiple disciplines, and may contribute to better understanding of shared praxes, while offering insight into a process and model which can expand interdisciplinary professional development with horticultural therapy as a participating discipline.