Therapeutic horticulture describes the health and well-being outcomes made possible for people through active or passive engagement with plants. The modes of active engagement can include structured clinical interventions, such as horticultural therapy; or in social and community-based horticulture programs, such as those found in aged-care, disability support, school and gardening settings. Passive engagement refers to the human health benefits gained from contact with plants or greenery in the wider landscape. The landscape settings may be as diverse as public parks, gardens and greenspaces, or those held within institutional settings such as hospital, healthcare, school, and community gardens, or even gardens that can be integrated into buildings, such as roof gardens and interior landscapes. Internationally, therapeutic horticulture is becoming a well-established discipline, with an expanding evidence base around the mental, physical and social benefits of contact with plants, parks and gardens.
As at 2022 there are no accredited education and training programs in therapeutic horticulture in Australia (as per the Australian Qualification Framework). However, there are several relevant introductory workshops and short course programs offered by different state education and private providers. Examples include those offered through state groups such as CERES (Vic), Kevin Heinz GROW (Vic) and ACS Distance Education (online). There is a single subject offered as a one-week intensive at the University of Melbourne in September (HORT90011 Therapeutic Landscapes).
Undertaking studies in horticulture to develop horticultural skills and knowledge is strongly recommended to enhance the potential for a successful therapeutic horticulture experience for people. The best place to look for horticulture-specific study is in your home state. These include TAFE courses, particularly Certificate 3, Certificate 4 or Diploma courses, and University coursework programs in agriculture and horticulture.
Work experience is crucial and will assist you in growing your network to build opportunities in therapeutic horticulture practice.
THA is working on a new education and training strategy and hopefully we will see more options available in the future.
It is difficult to define a career pathway in therapeutic horticulture. International websites providing useful descriptions of the different employment roles and activities in the sector, including Thrive (UK), the Therapeutic Landscapes Network (USA) and the American Horticultural Therapy Association (USA). Most people employed in therapeutic horticulture initially come from other professions including social and community services, allied health, horticulture, education, landscape architecture and mental health nursing.
THA acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land where we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.