- About AHTA
- Horticultural Therapy
- Professional Registration
History of Horticultural Therapy
History and Practice
Horticultural therapy (HT) is a time-proven practice. The therapeutic benefits of garden environments have been documented since ancient times. In the 19th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and recognized as the "Father of American Psychiatry," was first to document the positive effect working in the garden had on individuals with mental illness.
In the 1940s and 1950s, rehabilitative care of hospitalized war veterans significantly expanded acceptance of the practice. No longer limited to treating mental illness, HT practice gained in credibility and was embraced for a much wider range of diagnoses and therapeutic options. Today, HT is accepted as a beneficial and effective therapeutic modality. It is widely used within a broad range of rehabilitative, vocational, and community settings.
HT techniques are employed to assist participants to learn new skills or regain those that are lost. HT helps improve memory, cognitive abilities, task initiation, language skills, and socialization. In physical rehabilitation, HT can help strengthen muscles and improve coordination, balance, and endurance. In vocational HT settings, people learn to work independently, problem solve, and follow directions. Horticultural therapists are professionals with specific education, training, and credentials in the use of horticultural for therapy and rehabilitation. Read the formal definition of the role of horticultural therapist.