Gardening is an activity that requires you to stop, think, and focus. In horticulture therapy, a person is encouraged to take a break from the daily stresses of life and focus only on what’s in front of them. This can serve as an important step in a person’s addiction recovery program.
The benefits of horticultural therapy gained more attention in the 1950s, when it was used to help hospitalized war veterans improve physical and mental health. Since then, it has been more closely studied and applied to various healing programs. The focus on specific skills and goals in gardening has shown to be very beneficial for many people recovering from addiction.
Gardening & Addiction Treatment
Some important goals in addiction treatment include improving self-esteem, increasing attention and focus, and learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety. When gardening, you have to focus only on the thing in front of you to do it successfully. Many of these activities promote tranquility, like planting and tending to plants. Others, such as digging and clipping hedges, can serve as a valuable outlet for strong emotions.
During horticulture sessions at Silver Ridge, a licensed horticulture therapist teaches the basics of gardening while helping clients make a more personal connection between caring for plants and themselves.
As published by Virginia Tech Professor of Horticulture Diane Relief in the Journal of Rehabilitation, some of the benefits of horticulture therapy include:
- Improved interpersonal relationships
- Improved self-awareness
- Improved mood
- A deepened understanding of relationships and how to evaluate them
- Improved planning and decision-making
- An outlet for negative emotions
- Improved self-confidence and self-esteem
- More opportunities for creativity and self-expression
- Stress relief
A Therapy You Can Take Home
One major benefit of horticulture therapy is that gardening is a skill you can take anywhere. Whether you have your home in the rural areas of Asheville or the heart of downtown, there are always ways to continue gardening as a hobby and therapy.
Caring for plants is a good way to stay engaged and focused. Plants stimulate all the senses, and just being around greenery can help alleviate stress and anxiety. This is why it has become one of the mainstay therapies in our holistic recovery program.