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Therapeutic Techniques in Horticultural Therapy

Created by Nick Stryker & Christy Johns Penman

Nick Stryker

on 8 February 2014

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Transcript of Therapeutic Techniques in Horticultural Therapy

Nick Stryker & Christy Johns Penman
HORT 752
Therapeutic Techniques in Horticultural Therapy

There are 7 commonly used therapeutic techniques in HT. This presentation will discuss two of them: Modeling and Person-centered therapy
The Modeling technique can be explained from Social Learning Theory. Albert Bandura's integrated approach to learning which has four components:
, and
. The core of Social Learning Theory is that children or adults in new situations learn from others in the environment how to behave.

Grusec, J. E. (1992). Social learning theory and developmental psychology: The legacies of Robert Sears and Albert Bandura. Developmental Psychology, 28(5), 776-786. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0012-1649.28.5.776
Bandura's Social Learning Theory may sound familiar. His famous bobo doll experiment is often referenced when discussing the negative impact of violence exposed to children.
I have provided a Youtube video which reviews the 1961 experiment. It is not related to horticulture however it is interesting!
So to bring the modeling technique into focus for a horticultural therapist. It is important to keep in mind that people are much more likely to attempt an activity if they have seen someone else can do it. First we need to know that it can be done and then to know that we can do it.
A component of horticultural therapy is the client's participation in a horticultural activity. Often a demonstration or modeling is the first technique used. This engages the client in the activity while also teaching.
Kennedy, K., & Haller, R. (2006). Working with Program Participants: Techniques for Therapists, Trainers, and Program Facilitators. In Haller,R. & Kramer,C. (Eds.), Horticultural Therapy Methods(pp. 59-85). The Haworth Press.
Kennedy, K. & Haller, R. (2006) offer technique tips when modeling:
Uses a common and natural way of teaching
Shows acceptable methods for doing the activity
Requires that the client observe carefully
It helps the learning and self-confidence of the client to see the end result of the activity
Often verbal information is given to explain details of the activity
The following research by Beckie,M., & Bogdan, E. (2010) discusses the training and involvement of senior immigrants in urban Canada who have struggled integrating into society. Their horticulture experience varied greatly from none at all to field-crop farming. The participants 55 and older relied heavily on visual aids and hands-on modeling during their workshops. After learning in the workshops the clients began outdoor farming in the field. Outcomes showed participation improved their socialization by utilizing public transportation and involvement in farmers markets.
Beckie, M., & Bogdan, E. (2010). Planting roots: Urban agriculture for senior immigrants. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 1(2), 77-89. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.er.lib.k-state.edu/docview/907073110?accountid=11789
The authors go on to state that the therapist should be mindful of techniques used that are the least restrictive or interfering to be respectful and encourage independence from the client. This is why the use of the modeling technique varies with client populations. I will now discuss different scenarios when modeling is used.
In this example, once the clients were able to recreate the activity presented to them modeling was not necessary. You will find that populations with higher functioning will no longer benefit from the modeling technique due to their mastery of the task. In some situations, clients may have mastered the activity however want you to model for them because of the interaction it allows. Keep in mind modeling can be revisited if clients are struggling with the activity.

Other client populations that are in this higher functioning population include:
Substance abuse
Youth or adult prison inmates
Physical injuries
Mental illness
Since modeling is often the first technique used it is relevant to all populations and can be used in any HT setting.
In my (Nick's) experience operating therapeutic horticulture activities modeling has been very effective. Much of my experience has been working with adults 20-70 years old with some diagnosed developmental or intellectual disability. The spectrum is broad so their level of functioning varies.

When working with autistic clients the repetitive operation of modeling was helpful to their learning. Sometimes these clients did learn the activity like the process involved to fill a six-pack with soil then plant vegetable seeds so modeling was not needed afterward.

In other cases, modeling was used at every session to complete the task during their time at the garden. So I will demonstrate where to grasp a weed to pull it, how deeply to plant a tomato plant, or even where I can walk in the garden to avoid stepping on a plant. When they return the next time I will need to model these activities again.
Person-centered Therapy
Person-centered therapy... What is it?
Person-centered therapy was created by Carl Rogers in the 1940s.
This therapy is based on the theory of self-actualization. In person-centered therapy, the "client" determines his own goals and the therapist helps the client achieve these goals by being an open, caring listener.
Some things to note about person-centered (PC) therapy....
-Patients are referred to as "clients" in order to alleviate any negative hierarchy established from the term "patient"

-The client and therapist strive for a close personal relationship

-Goals typically include increased self-esteem, self-discovery, personal improvement, and any self-determined goals
This therapy requires three attitudes of the therapist
the therapist must be sensitive to the client's emotions

the therapist must be open and genuine and not hide behind professionalism

Unconditional positive regard-
the therapist must accept the client for exactly who they are
If you want to learn more from Carl Rogers himself, watch this video!
PC therapy and Horticultural Therapy
These techniques can be easy to use in a HT setting. No special tools are required. All that would be required are the correct attitudes of the therapist and the willingness of the client.
When is this technique appropriate?
PC therapy is best when working toward goals that involve areas such as improved self-esteem, personal growth, or coping with feelings and situations.
PC therapy may also be more effective in populations with higher cognitive functioning that can clearly identify personal goals and are capable of introspection.
PC therapy in Horticultural Therapy
PC therapy is referenced in a paper advising the practices for HT programs in an Alzheimers population. Mitchell Hewson (HTM) recommends a person-centered therapy when dealing with Alzheimers patients. He emphasizes the idea of ensuring that patients are "encountered" and "understood".
Hewson, M. L. (2001). Using Horticultural Therapy to Improve Quality of Life for People with Alzheimers Disease. Presented at
Designs for Demetia: Integrating Systems of Care Conference
van Deth, R. (2013). In contact with yourself: Client-centered therapy.
van Deth, R. (2013). In contact with yourself: Client-centered therapy.
van Deth, R. (2013). In contact with yourself: Client-centered therapy.
PC therapy implementation
Carl Rogers, founder of person-centered therapy, and his quote on gardening
"And then I garden. Those mornings when I cannot find time to inspect my flowers, water the young shoots I am propagating, pull a few weeds, spray some destructive insects, and pour just the proper fertilizer on some budding plants, I feel cheated. My garden supplies the same intriguing question I have been trying to meet all my professional life: What are the effective conditions for growth? But in my garden, though the frustrations are just as immediate, the results, whether success or failure, are more quickly evident. And when, through patient, intelligent, and understanding care I have provided the conditions that result in the production of a rare or glorious bloom, I feel the same kind of satisfaction that I have felt in the facilitation of growth in a person or in a group of persons."
-Carl Rogers, 1973

Carl Rogers' quote reveals an analogy about how person-centered therapy is similar to gardening. Why not combine the two? They both will provide a richer and more effective experience.
PC therapy could be used in a HT program where the ratio of therapist to client is one to one. This would allow the therapist to listen to the client and for them to work towards their goals while working in a garden setting. HT would be beneficial as it creates a warm and nonthreatening environment for the client, allowing them to open up more easily then in an office or indoor location. Clients (such as a client coping with PTSD) could have a scheduled time to meet the therapist by themselves in the garden to perform plant tasks and be allowed to talk through thoughts and feelings. The HT activity could be designed to help think about these feelings and cope in new ways.
Thank you for reading and we hope you learned something new!
-Nick and Christy
Full transcript