All Kinds of News for April 11, 2018
Horticultural therapy, sometimes called nature therapy, is one of many adjunctive therapy offerings at Skyland Trail. In addition to evidence-based skills groups based on diagnosis, Skyland Trail clients also participate in hands-on adjunctive therapy groups each week, including horticultural, music, art, and recreation therapy. Clients participate in more than 125 structured groups each week.
Beginning from humble roots – a garden patch of collard greens – the horticultural therapy program now offers classes in the greenhouse and in gardens throughout the campus and is led by a registered horticultural therapist.
Horticultural therapy groups often connect concepts of recovery and growth with what can be observed in nature. For example, clients propagate plants and consider how, like plants, they must establish their own roots separate and apart from their families of origin. Nature's cycles of dormancy and rebirth are compared to the human experience of healing, change and growth. And, by planting seeds in clear containers, clients examine how plants often grow first under the soil. Watching the plants grow, clients learn that while dramatic changes may not be visible above ground, critical growth is taking place beneath the surface that will be revealed in time.
Clients also are encouraged to reconnect with their sense of whimsy and wonder through projects like building fairy homes or birdhouses with natural materials. Clients sometimes have opportunities to share their creations with the community through partnerships with local gardens and parks.
Other projects, like constructing finger labyrinths with sand and pebbles, or balancing stacks of stones, reinforce principles of mindfulness and meditation that are a part of the dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) curriculum.
Recently clients in the dual diagnosis program created a "12 Places of Pause" path on campus. A designated path incorporates 12 places of pause that correspond with the 12-step curriculum used by clients recovering from addiction or substance use and a co-occurring mood, anxiety or thought disorder.
Skyland Trail horticultural therapist Libba Shortridge, HTR, received the 2017 Rhea McCandlis Professional Service Award from the American Horticultural Therapy Association. Shortridge was recognized for her work to integrate horticultural therapy into the residential treatment program at Skyland Trail, and for advancing the role of horticultural therapy in mental health treatment.
Shortridge also leverages the horticultural therapy program as an opportunity to partner with local garden clubs. Garden clubs come to the Skyland Trail campus to participate in volunteer service projects, or to experience client-led instructional classes on flower arranging, caring for succulents, or other garden-related topics. Bringing the community to campus for these activities helps improve understanding of mental illnesses and the potential of evidence-based treatment to heal and change lives.
Horticultural therapy provides a creative outlet for clients, an opportunity to build social skills, a new hobby they can continue after treatment to maintain their health, and a green lens through which to view their own recovery process and potential for ongoing growth and renewal.
About Skyland Trail
Located in Atlanta, Skyland Trail is a nationally recognized nonprofit mental health treatment organization serving adults ages 18 and older with a primary psychiatric diagnosis. Through our residential and day treatment programs, we help our clients grow, recover and reclaim their lives. We’re focused on individuals with complex mental health issues, helping them understand that they can be – and are – more than a diagnosis. We offer expert, evidence-based psychiatric care alongside a compassionate, holistic path to wellness. Our integrated mental, medical, and social model helps clients develop strategies to improve mental health, physical wellness, independence, and relationships with family and friends. Unique therapies offered include music, art and horticultural therapy; workforce and school readiness; primary care services; family therapy; and healthy living and nutrition coaching. Learn more at www.skylandtrail.org