Asked Questions

Check out the CHTA FAQs page or CHTA Instagram to gain some foundational information about core definitions, documents, and professional processes

HT, meaning Horticultural Therapy, at its core, is promoting wellness through engagement with nature & plants. In a more defined definition, HT is a formal practice that uses plants, horticultural activities, and the garden landscape to promote well-being for its participants. It is goal orientated with defined outcomes and assessment procedures, and administered by professionally trained horticultural therapists (CHTA, 2023). 

An example of a Horticultural Therapy session might be a group focused on reducing symptoms of depression using nature-based activities, in which each participant has undergone an assessment process with the Horticultural Therapist or another member of the care team. The therapeutic sessions have defined goals and outcomes, and results will be documented post-session. 

TH, meaning Therapeutic Horticulture, is the purposeful use of plants and plant-related activities to promote health and wellness for an individual or group. Goals and defined outcomes for individuals/participants are not necessarily considered nor clinically documented.

An example of a Therapeutic Horticulture session might be a “Garden Drop-In” group hosted by a Horticultural Therapist or HT Professional. Because you don’t know who will be attending that drop-in session, the HTR is not able to assess the participants or set associated goals and outcomes. Therefore, when participants arrive, you may do an informal assessment process, such as asking “how are you arriving today” or “what are your goals for today”. The HTR may also ask a similar question to wrap up as a form of informal evaluation, ensuring the program led to therapeutic value for the participants. 

Being a Registered Horticultural Therapist is the highest tier of professional designation with the CHTA. Prior to gaining the appropriate experience and then applying for registration with the CHTA, an individual may use different titles, such as Horticultural Therapy Practitioner or Therapeutic Gardener. Once again, check out the CHTA FAQs page for details on professional titles and designations. 

Yes, of course. Horticultural Therapists typically work with vulnerable individuals and occasionally risky materials (think tools, dust, toxic plants, bees!), so we must not only carry Professional Liability insurance, but also other applicable insurances, such as insurance for outdoor community-based groups. 

Risk management and proper planning is just as valuable as your professional insurance. As the ‘expert’ in the use of plants for therapeutic purposes, we are the ones who need to know the details of our plant material and gardening supplies, as well as the capacity of our clients. Are the clients inclined towards putting things in their mouths? Are the clients able to sign a risk waiver? All of these factors affect the plants you choose, the therapeutic activity, and the way you set up a therapeutic space. 

Again, I point you towards the CHTA! The CHTA was the first place I truly found “my people” in this field. Join monthly events, join a committee, or reach out to others on Instagram! 

This answer is so dependent upon your background training and where you are practicing HT/ TH! In my work, I have more of a clinical lens, meaning most of my groups fall under the “Horticultural Therapy” spectrum. An average (summertime) day may look like this: 
  • Greet the care team and touch base on clients, programs, and collaboration opportunities for the day. 
  • Read report- the collection of charting notes from the recent 1-3 days, to ensure I am up to date on the client's experience and health status. 
  • Facilitate a morning Horticultural Therapy group, such as a Get Up & Garden group (focused on mobility & standing endurance) or a Forest Wonderland group (focused on reminiscence, sensory stimulation, and creativity & play). 
  • Admin tasks- building community connections, seeking donations or volunteer support, researching plant toxicity, planning upcoming programming and garden tasks, liaising with care team, charting. 
  • Afternoon group. 
  • One to one therapy session with ongoing client, focused on social isolation and a sense of participation & contribution to the community. 
  • Charting, professional reflection with team, planning for upcoming workdays and therapy sessions! 

Again, this answer depends on your educational and professional training. If you are trained to utilize assessments, this could include standardized, for-cost assessments, such as a physical assessment, leisure assessment, or depression scale. If you do not feel confident to use an assessment, you can collaborate with the organization’s Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, Social Worker, Nursing team, or beyond- and draw upon their skills and assessment processes. 

If you do not feel trained to utilize formal assessments, or aren’t in a position of collaborating with another health professional, you can employ informal assessments, such as a rating scale pre and post therapy program, or a metaphorical assessment, such as “describe your internal weather report today” or “what kind of season are you feeling internally”? 

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.