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  Social and Therapeutic Horticulture


One of the most successful and popular green care options in the UK is social and therapeutic horticulture (STH) with over 1000 projects catering for over 21,000 clients each week.  Horticultural therapy has been used as a therapy or as an add-on to therapy for many years and in the UK there has been a steady rise since the 1980s in the numbers of garden projects that offer horticultural therapy or social and therapeutic horticulture to many different groups of people.

Social and therapeutic horticulture focuses on well-being improvements through horticulture and Sempik et al (2003) define Horticultural Therapy as “the use of plants by a trained professional as a medium through which certain clinically defined goals may be met”; whereas Thrive (the national charity representing STH in the UK) defines social and therapeutic horticulture as: “the process by which individuals may develop well-being using plants and horticulture. This is achieved by active or passive involvement”.

We are involved in the evaluation of a a City Farm-based Psycho-Education Group for Asylum Seekers and Refugees project run by the Traumatic Stress Service of Maudsley Hospital at Vauxhall City Farm. People suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, a range of mental health problems and compounding social factors (uncertain immigration status, racism, unstable accommodation, loss of family and community, social isolation, language difficulties, financial stresses etc). We are exploring the psychological health benefits they experience from spending time at the farm engaging in various green care activities including horticultural therapy.  


For more information on our STH research please contact Rachel Hine rehine@essex.ac.uk

For more details about Thrive  - The UK STH Charity

For more details on STH research undertaken by the Joe Sempik and colleagues at the Centre for Child and Family Research (CCFR) at Loughborough University http://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/ccfr/growing_together/


University of EssexInterdisciplinary Centre for Environment and Society