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Fundamentals of HT
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Nov. 1-4, 2018
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Nov. 15-18, 2018
San Diego, CA
Dec. 6-9, 2018
Half Moon Bay, CA
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HTI Director, Rebecca Haller

Linking People and Plants

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“I can’t imagine life without a garden-a place in which I can interact closely with nature and have a personal connection with plants,” Rebecca Haller, HTM, explained when asked what horticultural therapists need to understand about the role of the plant in an HT relationship. As the director of the Horticultural Therapy Institute in Denver, Colorado, Haller explained that in her own life, plants and the garden itself have been a powerful source for solace, joy, excitement and interest.

“The garden has always been a place where I could effortlessly reflect while spending time tending my garden,” she said. “Yet, the horticultural therapist must take that one step further in order to motivate someone she is working with to garden instead of watching TV, for example. Or to engage a young child who is blind to explore his senses when that stimulation may be frightening.”

That personal nature connection is what the HT employs to encourage a client to improve his or her life. “The lessons and development of the plant and garden can be insidious. Positive personal changes can occur for HT program participants, with or without a conscience awareness of these effects. In my opinion, you (the therapist) need to have that personal relationship with the plants. In addition to therapy skills, you need that plant connection to be successful in horticultural therapy,” she said.

Rebecca Haller has practiced and taught horticultural therapy since 1978. She established a vocational horticultural therapy program in Glenwood Springs, Colorado for adults with developmental disabilities. The program is still thriving after over 30 years in operation. In addition, she developed and taught a horticultural therapy certificate program at the Denver Botanic Gardens and has served as president and board member of the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA). She has been the director and lead instructor of the HT Institute since 2002.


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