Social Therapeutic horticulture (STH) is the beneficial, structured intervention on which many of our projects are based. It harnesses the positive effects of engaging in social and meaningful activities in a natural environment, to reduce anxiety, improve physical and mental health, develop communication and thinking skills, and increase confidence and resilience.
Social therapeutic horticulture uses the concept of the garden as a protected and secure place to develop an individual’s ability to listen, to notice, to feel able to relax, and to feel positive and connected.
From that feeling of possibility other behaviours and capacities can grow – the ability to engage, to socialise, to plan and to learn any number of practical and life skills that will help individuals become more independent and feel more fulfilled.
Using gardening tasks and the growing cycle, our staff and volunteers work with participants to co-produce a set of activities for each individual or group, to improve their particular health needs and work on certain goals they want to achieve. Decision making skills and planning are all part of this process.
Recent studies have shown how beneficial nature-based interventions can be, particularly when used in a structured therapeutic way by trained experienced professionals.
- Gardens and Health, implications for policy and practice – Kings Fund (2016)
- A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care (NECR204) – Natural England (2016)