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Essay winner uses horticultural therapy to help patients Rise Above

08/13/19 04:08:pm

Rogers team members were invited to submit statements and stories about what it means to help patients rise above the challenges of mental illness and how they and their colleagues help Rogers set the standard for behavioral health care. The following essay was written by Jonathan Irish, MA, LPC, HTR, horticultural therapist:

Irish essay small.jpgWhen patients come to Rogers, they often feel beaten down by themselves, others, their community and their overall environment. They have lost the ability to see that their life is worth living. Since beginning at Rogers, I have worked diligently to help add meaning and purpose to the lives of my patients and restore a Life. Worth. Living. I have been able to be a part of helping patients rise above the lasting impact of these experiences by using metaphors and experiences in gardens and in the greenhouse. During horticultural therapy groups, patients are able to literally see how seeds and plants rise above the ground and the (sometimes) inhospitable environment.

They have been able to see and experience the positive change in gardens and their own life due to the renewing of soil, ridding of weeds, and addition of support. Often the people I work with did not see the point or the benefit of horticultural therapy at first, but by the end of their time at Rogers have changed their mind and perspective on the importance of connecting to plants in meaningful and purposeful ways. Below you will find parts of quotes included in letters

I have received from past patients describing the positive impact horticultural therapy has had on their lives:

“There is something really special about watching life grow all around. The day we talked about seeds was really amazing because I actually started to connect plants with food and life.”

“Thanks for showing me the power of plants. It has truly helped me re-connect with the world around me.”

“Your groups have really helped me grow (like a plant!) and they’re always a good time. Plus, you introduced me to gardening and flower arranging which are two things I have grown to love.”

“From the second day in treatment at horticultural therapy until now I will always remember the first day when we talked about labels. This showed me that I am so much more than the labels other people give me, and what labels my body gives me. I am so much more than my body and the labels it brings.”

“I loved being outside and working in the gardens with you. You always helped connect my issues with OCD and ED to the garden into something I could see and touch and that helped me so much.”

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