The Garden As Therapy

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The Garden As Therapy
The Garden As Therapy

Video: The Garden As Therapy

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Video: Horticultural Therapy: Natural Therapy From the Garden 2023, January

The garden as therapy

In recent years, gardens have also been increasingly used as a therapeutic tool in hospitals, rehabilitation and addiction treatment centers, facilities for the disabled, retirement homes, schools and kindergartens. This expansion of the living space and spectrum of perception not only contributes to an increase in the quality of life of the patients, but also offers doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, nursing staff, among others, variety in everyday hospital and ward life. The therapy garden creates a new form of togetherness…


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What is garden therapy?

The term garden therapy refers to the targeted use of gardening activities in a therapeutically effective environment. The aim is to restore, maintain and promote mental, spiritual and physical health (definition according to the Garden Therapy Working Group, University of Agricultural and Environmental Education). On the one hand, one makes use of the mere effect of the garden and nature experience under the guidance of perception and mindfulness (receptive) and on the other hand of creative work and creation in the garden. Patients actively help shape the green space by planting, maintaining and looking after flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Garden therapy is used for people of all ages, in a wide variety of life situations and for various clinical pictures: People with psychiatric or neurological diseases such as depression, anxiety disorders, trauma, dementia, Alzheimer's disease and people with addictions can benefit from the gardens as part of their therapy. For children and adolescents in difficult situations or in the case of behavioral problems, a therapy garden can help to cope with them and serve an educational purpose. People in rehabilitation, e.g. after accidents, can receive physical therapy sessions outdoors. Elderly people in geriatric facilities are given the opportunity to expand their living space and get back to work.

Possible areas of application (according to the University of Agricultural and Environmental Education):

  • medical treatments,
  • Care and support facilities,
  • socio-educational area,
  • psychosocial area, e.g. work training, intercultural gardens, guided and accompanied leisure activities for health care, daily structure for people with intellectual learning disabilities and much more,
  • protected forms of living.

More grows in the garden than you sow

In the therapy gardens, it is about overcoming new challenges and relearning to enjoy. In nature (also) not everything always goes according to plan, you have to react flexibly and improvise. In the garden, it is also about taking responsibility and recognizing tasks. Last but not least, harvesting self-grown fruits is a sense of achievement for gardeners and sometimes gives them self-confidence and confidence. The daily and seasonal rhythm in exchange with nature also gives the patient support and structure.

Effects and effects of therapy gardens:

  • Promote interpersonal relationships, communication and networking
  • Stay in the fresh air, soak up the sun. Seniors often have a vitamin D deficiency due to a lack of light
  • Recognize tasks
  • To take responsibility
  • Relaxation
  • Creation of structure and daily rhythm
  • Live to the rhythm of the seasons
  • Promotion of awareness
  • Variety and distance from everyday hospital and ward routine
  • physical movement
  • fresh fruit and vegetables are available

Adapted to the needs

Therapy gardens are adapted to the special needs of visitors and should be barrier-free. In the geriatric area, for example, handrails should not be missing. Ramps should be available for handicapped or disabled people who are dependent on walkers or wheelchairs. Elevated beds also allow older people to garden without having to kneel and bend over. The beds may also be wheelchair accessible.

There should also be places to retreat and seating. In order to be able to be active in gardening in the cold season and in bad weather, greenhouses or green workshops are suitable. To protect people and in line with the principle of sustainability, it is recommended to follow organic cultivation when setting up and maintaining a therapy garden.

Examples of the successful use of green space can be found in the Vienna Hospital Association in the area of ​​nursing homes and geriatric centers as well as in the Wiener Städtische Hospitals. Furthermore, for example, the therapy garden in the Anton Proksch Institute, which specializes in the therapy of addictions.

Scientific research on garden therapy takes place in Austria at the Medical University in Vienna, Center for Public Health, Institute for Environmental Hygiene.

There is university training in garden therapy at Danube University Krems in cooperation with the University of Agricultural and Environmental Education. As a prerequisite for training to become an academic expert in garden therapy, you should have a regular occupation from pedagogy, social affairs, psychology, medicine, biology or horticulture. Last but not least, therapy gardens also contribute to increasing biological diversity.

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