Plant-astic! Q&A with Genevieve Layman, HTR: Earthtones Horticultural Therapy Program Director

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What is horticultural therapy?

Horticultural therapy is an effective evidence-based therapeutic modality that uses plants, gardens and nature-based activities to promote well-being for the participants. Registered Horticultural therapists (HTR) assess emotional well-being, social functioning, communication abilities, cognitive and physical abilities and horticultural interest. Horticultural therapists work in collaboration with other care providers and professionals to develop individual and/or group goals and objectives. There are many psychological, social, cognitive and physical benefits to engaging with plants and nature! Some of these benefits might include an improved sense of well being, a reduction in stress and anxiety, improved concentration and an increase in self esteem.

Who can benefit from horticultural therapy?

Anyone can benefit from therapeutic horticulture and nature experiences! When you walk outside on a beautiful sunny day and you can hear the birds singing or smell the Daphne blooming how does your body react? There is more and more research that shows nature engagement has lasting restorative benefits. HTRs are trained to work with people of all ages and abilities to reach person-centered goals. Here at Earthtones we serve older adults and adults with Alzheimer’s, dementia Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, developmental disabilities and other multiple disabilities.

What kind of goals do you work on?

Horticultural therapists actively engage and involve clients with plants and nature with the intent of improving cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being. Techniques are employed that can help participants learn new skills, maintain skills, or regain those that are lost. Engaging with nature is a deeply meaningful experience for many and offers opportunities for self expression, positive social interaction, and sensory stimulation.

Can you share one of your favorite moments from a session?

I am continually in awe of the people-plant interactions I get to witness each session. One stand-out moment I get to see regularly is watching my clients who might be in a state of high anxiety move to relaxing their body and their mind as they arrange flowers or propagate plants. They become calm and comfortable and experience a state of flow in working with the plant material. Seeing that is deeply inspiring. Last week a client told me, “This is the best I have felt all day. I always look forward to this group.”

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