What is Horticultural Therapy?

“Horticultural therapy is a professionally conducted client-centered treatment modality that utilizes horticulture activities to meet specific therapeutic or rehabilitative goals of its participants. The focus is to maximize social, cognitive, physical and/or psychological functioning and/or to enhance general health and wellness,”
Rebecca Haller, HTM


From: Horticultural Therapy Methods: Making Connections in Health Care, Human Service, and Community Programs (Taylor & Francis, 2006)

Generally speaking, what benefits does Horticultural Therapy offer?

  • Provides meaningful, purposeful activity
  • Offers versatility in programming for all developmental areas
  • Addresses innate psychological needs and connection with the natural world
  • Offers restoration and respite from mental stress
  • Encourages human growth that is fundamental and central to each, individual served
  • Impacts visitors, staff and family members as well as participants

For more information on these benefits see Horticultural Therapy Methods: Making Connections in Health Care, Human Service, and Community Programs.

Where is Horticultural Therapy practiced?

  • Psychiatric hospitals and mental health programs
  • Vocational, occupational and rehabilitation programs
  • Substance abuse programs
  • Hospitals, clinics and skilled nursing facilities
  • Hospice and palliative care programs
  • Correctional facilities
  • Public and private schools
  • Community and botanic gardens
  • Assisted living and senior centers
  • Residential setting such as foster care, homeless shelters, therapeutic farms
  • Physical rehabilitation hospitals
  • Health promotion and wellness programs

How long has Horticultural Therapy been practiced?

HT is a relatively new profession; the first Master of Science degree in horticultural therapy was awarded in 1955 by Michigan State University. By 1971 a curriculum had been developed at Kansas State University providing students with training in horticulture and psychology leading to a bachelors degree in HT. Yet, horticultural therapy has documented use dating back to ancient times when court physicians prescribed walks in palace gardens for mentally disturbed royalty. In the late 1700s and early 1800s in the U.S. and the U.K., a greater understanding evolved about the relationship between people and plants, and the ability to use that relationship in a clinical setting as an accepted approach to treatment. HT began in mental health facilities, followed by use in physical rehabilitation and vocational to it’s current broad array of uses in many types of facilities and settings.

What training is needed to become a Horticultural Therapist?

Horticultural Therapy is an interdisciplinary field that combines horticulture, human sciences and HT coursework. Although not required, many HTI students begin training with at least some experience or education in either horticulture, or human service (or both). The American Horticultural Therapy Association’s professional registration standards outlines recommended courses. See www.ahta.org for more information.

Why is face-to-face learning so important?

The Horticultural Therapy Institute values face-to-face learning and believes it is the best way to prepare students for work in the connected and nature-based human service field of horticultural therapy. Since the Institute was founded in 2002, in-person classes have been the primary teaching method used to offer the student opportunities for direct communication, collaboration, active engagement, and experiential learning. Since 2020, the Institute has held synchronous online classes as well as resuming face-to-face for one section of each course in person in fall of 2021. These varied experiences from more than twenty years of providing education in horticultural therapy have strengthened our commitment to face-to-face classes for high-quality participatory education.

What is unique about our online classes?

Students commit to 4 full intensive days online and live, to achieve full immersion in the subject matter. This is for the benefit of the student to set aside specific time dedicated to learning.