By Susan Morgan
Note: The resources listed here are based on the opinions of the author and others as indicated, not necessarily the Horticultural Therapy Institute. Review information sources for authenticity and credibility.
Traditional print resources often comprise an essential part of a horticultural therapy (HT) practitioner’s go-to reference library. These resources provide handy tips, ideas, techniques, research, and other information on a range of topics that relate to the practitioner’s work.
I recently posed a question about preferred resources to the members of the HTI Student Forum, a closed networking group of current and former Horticultural Therapy Institute students on Facebook, and received responses that included these traditional print materials, including books, magazines, and pamphlets. Debbie Soell Albert says, “I love a book called Hands on Nature, put out by the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. It is an oldy but goody filled with activities and good background info.” She also subscribes to a bimonthly magazine, The Essential Herbal, that she says is “also filled with ideas and info.” Taylor Burnham recommends the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Garden for Life fact sheets that address various HT-related topics, including barrier free garden design and sensory engaging plants. (We recently wrote about the release of the new edition of Horticultural Therapy Methods: Connecting People and Plants in Health Care, Human Services, and Therapeutic Programs, Second Edition, eds. Rebecca L. Haller and Christine L. Capra, published by CRC Press.)
Still, there are plenty of additional resources – print and electronic – that may supplement a practitioner’s library and provide timely updates on recently published research supporting the people-plant connection, news on HT programs around the world, and much more. Here is a list of electronic resources that you may consider adding to your multimedia library, if you haven’t already.
Video sharing platforms, such as YouTube, provide opportunities for practitioners to share information about their work or watch videos that inspire and inform on a variety of topics. For example, the Horticultural Therapy Institute has produced two Focus on HT videos – Youth and the Garden and Elders in the Garden – that can be viewed on their website. Whether they are self produced or produced by someone else, video resources can be useful in helping practitioners illustrate tangible benefits of the work they do, support marketing campaigns, and supplement presentations to potential clients, funding agencies, and the general public, to name a few.
If you are looking for the latest news in the media on various people-plant topics, subscribe to Google alerts, which will email alerts on recent online articles and videos related to a topic of your choosing. Plug in various search keywords, like “horticultural therapy,” “biophilia,” “mental health,” or other relevant and specific words, and news alerts will be delivered to your email inbox on a regular basis. This can be a great resource for the most up to date information.
If you like networking with fellow practitioners at annual conferences but miss the camaraderie in between, connect with others via LinkedIn. Aside from setting up your résumé on the site – a great way to connect with other professionals and potential employers – join networking groups within the site, such as the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA) and the Therapeutic Landscapes Network. Once approved by the group’s moderator to join, members share ideas, interesting articles, and other relevant information, post questions, and seek input from other members.
Or, connect with friends and colleagues via other social media platforms like Facebook. You can join open or closed (invitation only) groups, or “like” and “follow” interesting pages to receive updates in your news feed. Cheryl Jacobs follows Open Spaces Sacred Places, managed by the TKF Foundation (Nature Sacred), on Facebook. Other examples of groups to consider following include: regional and international HT groups (check out a list of regional groups in the United States at the AHTA website); Children and Nature Network; Herb Society of America; Garden Professors; Emergent: A Group for Growing Professionals; public gardens like the New York Botanical Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden, and Desert Botanical Garden; and other organizations of special interests, including grant writing and funding, small business and entrepreneurship, personal improvement, and specialized health and human services.
Pinterest is an online resource for collecting inspiring ideas for HT activities, gardening hacks, herbal recipes, inspirational quotes, and more. It is a handy tool for building themed boards – consider using it as an updated electronic filing system where you can gather together supporting materials and ideas for session planning in one location. You can also poke around in other pinners’ boards and follow like-minded pinners for future updates. Also, you have the option to download the Pinterest button to your toolbar, and pin various sources, such as Wikipedia or the Cooperative Extension Service, to a board for easy access.
If you like to read books but are constantly on the go, audiobooks are another way to read. Digital audiobook selling sites like Audible offer a selection of books on therapeutic techniques, philosophy, horticulture, and more that can be listened to via the sites’ smartphone and tablet apps. After hearing presentations by ecotherapist Patricia Hasbach and pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom at a conference, Katie Grimes read and consulted their books, Ecopsychology: Science, Totems, and the Technological Species (eds, P.H. Kahn and P.H. Hasbach) and Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children (by A. Hanscom), the latter of which can be found on Audible. For those on a budget, your local library may offer a free digital audiobook and e-book platform, such as OverDrive, where you can check out and read or listen to the books for free.