Horticultural Therapy and the Phenomenon of Hope
Ask anyone in recovery to describe how they felt once they finally hit bottom, and most likely the feeling of hopelessness will be on the list. Conversely, a key factor associated with recovery from addiction is the phenomenon of hope. In this context, “hope” may be defined as anticipation of a future that includes:
- a sense of personal confidence; coping ability;
- physical, spiritual, and psychological well-being;
- Having a sense of purpose and meaning in life, and that anything is possible.
Several well established programs in Canada and the U. K. have demonstrated conclusively the therapeutic benefits of gardening. There is clear evidence of cognitive benefits (enhanced mood, reduced arousal, and improved concentration); and social benefits (the need to cooperate with others to achieve an end goal).
In a nutshell, horticultural, or gardening therapy is beneficial in treating addiction because it focuses on skills and aspirations rather than symptoms and deficits—as well as providing hope for those who may feel they have little else to hope for—this is the most beneficial aspect of gardening therapy.
Just as the very act of planting a seed in the soil requires an element of hope that it will grow; people often feel their own personal journey in recovery begin as they actively play a role in the growth of that seedling.
Tara is considering adding horticultural therapy to our programming. Of course, it will require a lot of planning and collaboration with others for the program to be successful. Let us know your thoughts or ideas!