Horticultural Therapist

Horticultural Therapist

Horticultural Therapists use horticultural activities and environments to positively influence human well-being, emotions, health and behaviour. People helped by Horticultural Therapists may include those who have physical disabilities, mental health problems and learning difficulties, those recovering from major injuries or illnesses, and elderly people. Programmes can also be developed for the rehabilitation of offenders or those suffering from drug or alcohol abuse.

Horticultural Therapists often work in conjunction or liaison with other professionals such as psychologists and social workers.

To be a Horticultural Therapist you need:

· enthusiasm for and a keen interest in horticulture; preferably a qualification

· patience, tolerance and understanding

· the ability to relate positively and respectfully to all kinds of people

· the ability to encourage and motivate

· the ability to teach various skills

· the ability to make the most of limited budgets

· awareness of health and safety issues

Most programmes developed by Horticultural Therapists are tailored to the needs of individual clients; programme aims might include

· developing confidence, self-esteem, practical or social skills

· encouraging social inclusion

· learning or re-learning basic skills including numeracy and literacy

· providing sensory stimuli

· providing supportive outdoor activity and exercise to restore strength and mobility after an accident or illness

· provision of tranquil, restorative environments

Horticultural Therapists provide support for clients, and demonstrate skills as a part of the process of encouraging them to achieve their objectives and monitoring their progress. Sometimes, Horticultural Therapists will provide additional support to clients who themselves study for horticultural qualifications.

Staff and volunteer management; sourcing funding; developing project proposals may also be part of a Horticultural Therapist’s remit.

Typical Jobs or Career Paths

Specific qualifications in Horticultural Therapy are relatively new. Most Horticultural Therapists have started their careers by gaining skills and experience in another area, for example in horticulture or in professions such as social work, occupational therapy, nursing or teaching. Those who started out in horticulture must then develop their social care skills and knowledge; those who started in caring professions must then work on their horticultural skills and knowledge.

The additional experience required, whichever discipline was the starting point, can be obtained via several routes, such as:

· Studying on short courses and undertaking voluntary work at a social and therapeutic horticulture project

· Studying on longer courses and obtaining a qualification in social and therapeutic horticulture, although such courses are only available at a very few colleges.

There are a few college based courses suitable for those who have yet to attain any qualifications; admission to the courses will be based on commitment and suitability of the candidate.

A limited number of courses at university level are available for study and/or training in Horticultural Therapy. Entry requirements will vary depending on the nature of the course.

Career options include –

Jobs in Horticultural Therapy are often not widely advertised. Jobs for Horticultural Therapists may be advertised under other job titles – perhaps Project Worker or Horticultural Trainer.

Some examples of where a Horticultural Therapist might work include day services/community based projects; residential care establishments; rehabilitation units; hospitals; prisons; charitable and voluntary organisations; schools and specialist colleges.

Remuneration and Advancement Opportunities

Working hours vary, and may include weekends and evenings. Part-time hours may be available. Salaries will vary between employers and will also depend if you are working in private practice or for a government organization. Figures vary from country to country and the role will slightly differ from country to country.

Professional Bodies

Membership of Professional bodies is useful to encourage networking and that you are kept up to date with current trends. Some will require an annual fee to join, whilst others will require evidence of your educational attainment and experience. Some will offer reduced fees for students. Possible organizations will include horticultural, counselling, social and psychological professional bodies, depending on the level of training in each discipline.

Career Risks

There are risks associated with every career. Working with the disadvantaged, disabled or mentally ill can be stressful and demanding. Also, there may be situations where the client can display challenging and violent behaviour. However, you would be trained to deal with those sorts of situations and would often receive supervisory support to deal with any emotional or stressful difficulties you may face.

Recommended Courses

ACS offers courses in both psychology and horticulture and a few that you may find useful are detailed below.

Horticultural Therapy http://www.acsedu.co.uk/Courses/General-Horticulture/HORTICULTURAL-THERAPY-BHT341-743.aspx
Horticultural therapy (also known as‘social and therapeutic horticulture’) uses the activities associated with horticulture such as gardening, plant propagation, plant care, visits to natural environments and gardens and parks etc. in personal development; to engender a feeling of well-being, improve physical health and encourage social interaction.

RHS (Level II) Certificate in Horticulture

This vocationally-oriented course comprises core studies in general horticulture plus specialised elective studies. The course is designed to lay a foundation for a long-term career in horticulture by developing the ability to identify a large range of plants, knowledge of essential horticultural principles and practices and practical skills in plant propagation, growth and care. This course provides certification from the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) UK and a UK accredited qualification. Nominally 120 hours (as indicated by the RHS), though we believe only students who already have some prior experience could complete it within this time frame. Most students should budget on spending 150 hours or more doing this course if they hope to be successful when sitting final exams through the RHS (irrespective of whether they study with us or elsewhere). To be awarded the UK accredited certificate by the Royal Horticultural Society, you need to sit two exams set by the RHS. These are offered twice annually, and sitting of these exams can generally be arranged without too much difficulty in most regions around the world.

RHS Advanced Certificate in Horticulture http://www.acsedu.co.uk/courses/product.aspx?id=512

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is known and respected worldwide, and their qualifications are considered the most internationally credible qualifications in horticulture. This course run by ACS will prepare you to sit the RHS Advanced Certificate in Horticulture examinations, including the practical examination which must be undertaken in the UK. This course gives you greater depth of knowledge and horticultural skill, and if you want to go even further, it forms the first stage of the RHS Diploma in Horticulture. To complete this you must under take all of the following modules: Plant Propagation I, Soil Management (Horticulture); Botany I, Horticulture II; Practical Horticulture I; Landscaping I, Plant Establishment and Maintenance, Landscape Construction

The Practical Horticulture module may be studied online from anywhere in the world; but the RHS Exam for this can only be taken in the UK.

Successful completion of this course and RHS theory exams, plus 100 hrs of industry contact, will also allow you to gain an ACS Advanced Certificate in Horticulture.

RHS Diploma in Horticulture http://www.acsedu.co.uk/courses/product.aspx?id=523

This course of study can lead to two different awards. You may elect to undertake one or both awards. You can undertake an ACS Associate Diploma; an RHS Awarded Diploma; or both. The RHS Advanced Certificate is considered by the RHS as being the first half of this Diploma; and as such you are expected to have studied everything in that course (see above) before commencing the following subjects which make up the second part of the Diploma: Plant Ecology, Resource Management; Plant Breeding, Botany II; Practical Horticulture II; Outdoor Plant Production, Protected Plant Production

The Practical Horticulture module may be studied online from anywhere in the world; but the RHS Exam for this can only be taken in the UK. An alternative option is to undertake the appropriate exams with ACS, and be awarded an ACS Associate Diploma. This is a valid option for students who are unable to attend the RHS practical exams in the UK.

Advanced Certificate in Psychology http://www.acsedu.co.uk/courses/product.aspx?id=472

The course is divided into 9 modules/subjects as follows: 2 x Core (compulsory)

Modules: Introduction to Psychology, Psychology and Counselling and six elective modules from - Industrial Psychology, Educational Psychology, Sports Psychology, Child Psychology, Biopsychology I, Marketing Psychology, Conflict Management, Research Project 1 plus Industry experience 100 hours. This Advanced Certificate is accredited through the International Accreditation and Recognition Council. This course can be counted towards credit for higher qualifications with ACS Distance Education, Warnborough University and other ACS affiliate institutions.

Associate Diploma in Psychology http://www.acsedu.co.uk/courses/product.aspx?id=441

This course is different and unique, allowing you to gain a solid and broad base foundation in theoretical psychology at the same time as developing a variety of practical skills that will be useful in the workplace. Graduates are not psychologists (A psychologist needs higher university qualifications), but they will have a capacity to apply psychology in real life situations (e.g. as a manager, a counsellor, a marketer or a consultant). The course is divided into 15 modules. Seven compulsory modules must be undertaken by all students, and eight electives can be selected from a range of options listed below. Compulsory modules include Introduction to Psychology, Psychology and Counselling, Counselling Techniques, Industrial Psychology, Child Psychology, Research Project, Industry Meetings (e.g. Seminars, conferences) or Work Experience (e.g. volunteer counselling). Eight elective modules also need to be chosen.

DIPLOMA IN COUNSELLING & PSYCHOLOGY http://www.acsedu.co.uk/courses/product.aspx?id=468

This course is a vocational course aimed at those who wish to pursue a career in counselling. As such, it contains a practical element that not only complements the theory, but also prepares the student for real-life counselling situations. It is anticipated that graduates of this course will seek probationary employment in counselling. This course is recognised as an ACA approved counsellor training course. Duration: 1500 hours

Educational Psychology http://www.acsedu.co.uk/courses/product.aspx?id=392

This course will benefit a wide range of people, including:
-parents in developing a better understanding of how their children develop
-teachers, training officers or any other educationists involved in the education of children or adults
-welfare workers or recreation officers (voluntary or professional) in developing a better understanding of the educational development of persons they deal with.

Details of further ACS DE courses may be found at:

Horticulture http://www.acsedu.co.uk/courses/horti.aspx

Psychology and Counselling http://www.acsedu.co.uk/Courses/Psychology-Courses.aspx

For details of Warnborough University psychology and horticulture courses, visit