According to a Psychology Today article, gardening is a beneficial experience. When used in mental health treatment we refer to is as horticultural therapy. Horticultural therapy has two substantial benefits: 1. the first is the cognitive benefits (enhanced mood, reduced arousal and improved concentration); 2. the social nature of the activity (cooperation and synergy to achieve the end goal). Additionally, the hands-on nature of horticultural therapy is beneficial because it focuses on aspirations and skills, rather than deficits and symptoms.
Why is horticulture so healing?
British bestselling author Sarah Rayner has referred to anxiety as “a weed.” She characterizes anxiety as a physical and mental reaction that is normal—we all experience it—but in the over-anxious, it’s a powerful reaction in the wrong location. Weeding a garden or picking buds becomes a metaphor of overcoming limits preparing the way for new growth. Below are a few reasons why horticulture therapy can be so healing.
- Gardening can quiet the mind. Competing thoughts clear and settle when you are are focusing on a simple, repetitive and enjoyable task.
- Connecting to nature releases happy hormones. Gardening encourages us to exercise while we soak up sunshine fortifying energy levels and vitamin D. “Being out in the sun boosts our mood, improves sleep, and promotes vitamin D production,” says James Spencer, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York, US News and World Report-Health, June 2008.
- Nurturing plants instills a sense of responsibility. Being directly involved and responsible for a plant’s care helps us to feel appreciated, capable and connected with other living things.
Individualized, real life activities make the Pasadena Villa treatment experience more relevant and beneficial for each of our residents. In fact, activities like going to concerts, eating at restaurants, singing karaoke, or volunteering within the surrounding community, selected by current residents, help focus on achieving higher levels of independent living after treatment has concluded. Through therapeutic, prescribed treatment plans and activities, clients engage and practice new capabilities to expand their future options in life.
The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. Our outpatient treatment center is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. If you or someone you know may need counseling on mental health services, please fill out our contact form or call our admissions office at 407-574-5190.