As a small 501(c)3 non-profit organization, we focus our efforts and resources on education, reaching students from across the U.S. and internationally. We strive to help our students positively impact their own communities and the profession of HT. We have no physical office because all of our resources go into programming and allowing more flexibility to take these unique educational classes on the road. One of our goals is to expose students to many different facilities and programs across the country.
“The Horticultural Therapy Institute provides education and training in horticultural therapy to those new to, or experienced with, the practice of using gardening and plants to improve the lives of others”.
We operate the Institute with these in mind: integrity, customer service, community, improving lives, excellence, passion about HT, enthusiasm, and balance in life.
Horticultural Therapy Institute’s Faculty & Staff
Each member of the faculty is an experienced leader with a personal passion for horticultural therapy. They represent the broad spectrum of approaches to horticultural therapy practice and have a strong professional level of understanding of Horticultural Therapy in its many settings.
Rebecca L. Haller, HTM is the lead instructor for the Institute, responsible for the curriculum and each course offered. Additional faculty members are key to the content and success of our educational efforts. Each member of the faculty is an experienced leader with a personal passion for horticultural therapy. They represent the broad spectrum of approaches to horticultural therapy practice and have a strong professional level of understanding of Horticultural Therapy in its many settings.
The staff and faculty have provided HT education in Colorado since 2002. We are associated with Colorado State University, with courses that are offered for college credit that can lead to a certificate in HT.
See an article about the Institute’s longevity here.
As part of our coursework, we teach students how to design and manage landscapes that support and enable horticultural therapy programming. For example, students design gardens for nursing homes, schools, vocational training centers, prisons, etc. depending upon their interest and focus.
Rebecca Haller, HTM
- Lead Instructor
- Fundamentals of Horticultural Therapy
- Horticultural Therapy Techniques
- Horticultural Therapy Programming
- Horticultural Therapy Management
Rebecca Haller has practiced and taught horticultural therapy since earning an M.S. in Horticultural Therapy from Kansas State University in 1978. In 1981 she established a still-thriving vocational horticultural therapy program in Glenwood Springs, Colorado for adults with developmental disabilities. 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). Ms. Haller is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State University. She is an enthusiastic speaker on HT topics and has addressed numerous organizations including, AHTA, AOTA, ATRA, NAAP and APGA (formerly AABGA) as well as speaking at regional meetings, classes and conferences.
In 2008, she received the publications award from AHTA for the book Horticultural Therapy Methods: Making Connections in Health Care, Human Service and Community Programs. In 2005, she received the Horticultural Therapy Award from the American Horticultural Society.
Karen Kennedy, HTR
Karen L. Kennedy, HTR is active in the field of horticultural therapy (HT), developing programs and providing HT services to individuals with a wide variety of disabilities, illness and life situations. After managing the HT and Wellness Program at The Holden Arboretum for 23 years, Karen now works as a private contractor providing HT and consulting services, developing educational materials and teaching. She is a frequent presenter at regional and national professional conferences. She has served on the board of directors and committees of The American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) and co-authored chapters in the textbooks Horticulture as Therapy: Principles and Practice, (1998) and Horticultural Therapy Methods: Making Connections in Health Care, Human Service and Community Programs (2006). Karen received the 1994 Rhea McCandliss Professional Service Award from AHTA and 2009 Horticultural Therapy Award from the American Horticulture Society. She holds a B.S. in horticultural therapy from Kansas State University.
Jay Stone Rice, Ph.D
Jay Stone Rice was awarded his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the San Francisco School of Psychology. He was the principal investigator for an exploratory study of the effectiveness of San Francisco Sheriff Department’s innovative horticultural therapy program. Jay co-edited The Healing Dimensions of People-Plant Relations, which is published by the Center for Design Research, University of California, Davis. He has also written about the social ecology of the inner city family trauma, trauma’s relationship to substance abuse and crime, and gardening as a treatment intervention. Jay is a family therapist in private practice in San Rafael, CA.
Colleen Griffin, HTR
Colleen E. Griffin, HTR has been in private practice since 2018. She is a graduate of HTI and holds a BS in Public Health from the University of Maine. Colleen has experience developing HT/TH programming for special needs students in several public-school districts, including a program specifically designed for teens coping with substance abuse. Therapeutic garden design is a passion, and she enjoys teaching advanced training courses for master gardener volunteers through UMaine Cooperative Extension. Her community garden design for a cancer care foundation promotes therapeutic horticulture with self-guided mindfulness activities and interactive opportunities for all abilities. She has collaborated with faculty and staff at Southern Maine Community College in development of an on-campus mental health and wellness program. A regular contributor to the HTI blog, she has inspired readers to consider their connection to the natural world and gardens. Colleen serves on the board of the Northeast Horticultural Therapy Network and is an active member of the American Horticultural Therapy Association.
Christine Capra, HTI Program Manager
Christine is the program manager and co-founded the HT Institute in 2002. Previously she helped manage the horticultural therapy educational program at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
She is co-editor the book, Horticultural Therapy Methods: Making Connections in Health Care, Human Service and Community Programs” Taylor & Francis, 2006 and editor of the on-line HTI newsletter, “Making Connections.” She has won numerous writing awards and has been published in: OT Weekly, Mountain Plain and Garden, Green Thumb News, People-Plant Connection, AHTA News, GrowthPoint, The Community Gardener, Health and Gardens, Colorado Gardener, Denver Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor.
HTI Director, Rebecca Haller
“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.