WORKING AS A HORTICULTURAL THERAPIST
 
Horticultural therapists use horticultural activities as a tool for helping disadvantaged people. The therapy may be focused on either:

• improving or maintaining muscle function, and other aspects of physical well being
• psychological well being (eg. helping elderly people stay active in their declining years, helping disabled people to have a sense of worth, providing an opportunity for social interaction, etc)
• providing people with impaired capabilities with an opportunity for employment (eg. In a sheltered workshop
• providing a pathway to rehabilitation; or perhaps providing an alternative lifestyle.
• developing practical skills
• developing social skills
• rehabilitation of physically or psychologically damaged individuals

Sometimes programs are developed with a group focus, and at other times they are tailored for the needs of an individual.  The therapist may work with a small group, or they may work one on one with individuals. They often work closely with health care professionals or other service providers  (eg. A physiotherapist may better understand the physical needs and limitations of an accident victim. A horticultural therapist working with a physiotherapist can develop a program of horticultural activities for an individual, that is tailored to their needs and leads to effective rehabilitation. The benefit of this “joint” approach may be that the patient can be prescribed a pathway to recovery that does not seem like exercise, and which the patient is more motivated to adhere to).
A horticultural therapist needs to be part horticulturist, part health care worker, part counsellor, and sometimes other things beyond these.

Where Do they Work
They can work in medical or health care institutions (eg. Hospitals, Homes for Elderly), community centres, special schools (eg. For disabled or handicapped), Sheltered Workshop, Prisons, or any other relevant situation.

Opportunities & Risks
Opportunities arise for this type of work periodically in any place where you find disadvantaged people, including drug abuse victims, accident victims, disabled and handicapped people, the elderly, people suffering illnesses, etc.
Often the funding for horticultural therapy is dependent upon allocations by government or charities, though sometimes (eg. sheltered workshops), an enterprise may be able to generate income to partially or even fully fund itself, through production of plants or crops
 

More from ACS