Working as a Horticultural Therapist

What They Do

Horticultural therapists use horticultural activities as a tool for helping disadvantaged people. The therapy may be focused on either:

  • improving or maintaining muscle function, and other aspects of physical well being
  • psychological well being (eg. helping elderly people stay active in their declining years, helping disabled people to have a sense of worth, providing an opportunity for social interaction, etc)
  • providing people with impaired capabilities with an opportunity for employment (eg. In a sheltered workshop
  • providing a pathway to rehabilitation; or perhaps providing an alternative lifestyle.
  • developing practical skills
  • developing social skills
  • rehabilitation of physically or psychologically damaged individuals

Where They Work

They can work in medical or health care institutions (e.g. hospitals, homes for elderly), community centres, special schools (e.g. for disabled or handicapped), sheltered workshop, prisons, or any other relevant situation.

Horticultural therapists may be employed by the healthcare sector and earn an annual salary. Alternatively, they may be self-employed and work as contractors for the healthcare sector. In some cases, there may be opportunities to establish small businesses perhaps servicing both government-funded clients and private clients.

The types of job titles for horticultural therapists vary quite widely and include such titles as:

  • Horticultural therapist
  • Horticultural therapy assistant
  • Garden therapist
  • Garden therapy co-ordinator
  • Horticultural therapy programme co-ordinator
  • Horticultural activities specialist

The therapist may work with a small group, or they may work one on one with individuals. They often work closely with health care professionals or other service providers e.g. a physiotherapist may better understand the physical needs and limitations of an accident victim. A horticultural therapist working with a physiotherapist can develop a program of horticultural activities for an individual, that is tailored to their needs and leads to effective rehabilitation. The benefit of this joint approach may be that the patient can be prescribed a pathway to recovery that does not seem like exercise and which the patient is more motivated to adhere to.

What They Need

A horticultural therapist needs to be part horticulturist, part health care worker, part counselor, and sometimes other things beyond these. They need specialist training and knowledge to work in this field - both horticultural and therapeutic. Given that most jobs in horticultural therapy have evolved from the healthcare sector, typically horticultural therapists are primarily healthcare workers with qualifications in this field, and horticulture is a secondary aspect. The level and depth of horticultural knowledge required by a horticultural therapist may vary quite significantly depending on the clientele to be serviced and the country in which one resides. In some instances, just a basic knowledge would suffice. Generally speaking, those wishing to move into this filed who come from a background in horticulture will need to learn skills and gain qualifications in healthcare, and vice-versa for those coming from the healthcare sector.


Opportunities arise for this type of work periodically in any place where you find disadvantaged people, including drug abuse victims, accident victims, disabled and handicapped people, the elderly, people suffering illnesses, etc.
Often the funding for horticultural therapy is dependent upon allocations by government or charities, though sometimes (eg. sheltered workshops), an enterprise may be able to generate income to partially or even fully fund itself, through production of plants or crops.

Employees who work chiefly under other job titles may also offer horticultural therapy as part of their repertoire. For instance, psychologists, occupational therapists, activity co-ordinators, rehabilitation officers, as well as some others may all offer horticultural therapy services if they are trained to do so. 

Train with our Horticultural Therapy Course:



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