The American Horticulture Therapy Association explains "Horticultural therapy (HT) as not only an emerging profession, but as a time-proven practice. The therapeutic benefits of peaceful garden environments have been understood since ancient times.
In the 19th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and considered to be the "Father of American Psychiatry," reported that garden settings held curative effects for people with mental illness.
Rehabilitative care of hospitalized war veterans in the 1940’s and 1950’s greatly expanded the practice of HT. Today, HT is recognized as a practical and viable treatment with wide-ranging benefits for people in therapeutic, vocational, and wellness programs.
HT is now taught and practiced throughout the world in a rich diversity of settings and cultures."
From a stress management perspective, horticulture therapy or gardening therapy, as some people refer to it, is amazingly effective at dealing with issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, particularly with war veterans. This type of therapy is also used with disabled children and adults as well as with seniors with dementia or Alzheimer ’s disease. It is also very effective in assisting people who suffer from depression and anxiety. Lastly, it can be helpful in helping at risk youth solve confidence and social issues.
The Canadian Horticulture Therapy Association explains "Horticultural Therapy (HT) as a formal practice that uses plants, horticultural activities, and the garden landscape to promote well-being for its participants.
HT is goal oriented with defined outcomes and assessment procedures. HT sessions are administered by professionally trained Horticultural Therapists. Research indicates that HT is proven to be beneficial in a wide variety of healthcare, residential, school, and rehabilitative settings.
Therapeutic Horticulture (TH) is the purposeful use of plants and plant-related activities to promote health and wellness for an individual or group. A TH program leader is trained to use horticulture to promote well-being but goals and outcomes for individual participants are not clinically documented.
Both HT and TH recognize the positive benefits of the interaction between people and plants and gardens to improve cognitive, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
In Canada, horticulture therapy has been used increasingly as an evidence-based practice over the past sixty years. Care of hospitalized war veterans after World War II greatly expanded the use of gardening and horticultural activities in structured, rehabilitative programs. Now a discipline taught and practiced throughout the world, HT is used in a diversity of settings and cultures."