Careers in social and therapeutic
From getting in to getting on
There is no one route that can be taken to a career in social and
therapeutic horticulture and currently no one course that will cover
everyone's needs. The diversity of jobs in this sector means that
there is a different emphasis on different skills and qualifications
for each gardening or horticulture project; therefore there are a
number of routes that can be taken to gain the skills required for
any given post.
What is social and therapeutic horticulture?
Horticulture and gardening offer a unique range of activities that
can be used to enable people to build the skills and confidence to
change their lives.
Participation in an appropriately selected programme of
horticulture or gardening can improve or maintain physical,
psychological, social, cognitive or vocational abilities.
The history of social and therapeutic horticulture can be traced
back many centuries, although it wasn't until the twentieth
century that its potential for use in a more structured way was
understood and the term horticultural therapy was coined. Social
and therapeutic horticulture is therefore often described as a
young profession and this is evident when considering the
professional training structure.
A changing role
Prior to the development of courses in social and therapeutic
horticulture, experience of working in the field coupled with
experience or a formal qualification in an allied subject may have
been sufficient to secure a job or promotion. However, more and
more employers are demanding multi-skilled professionals who
have both experience and a formal qualification, ideally in social
and therapeutic horticulture. This reflects the increasing need for
practitioners who can not only develop relevant programmes for
their clients, but also manage staff and volunteers, secure
funding, draw up detailed proposals for developing the project and
promote their work to other professionals.
Some means of gaining experience in these often diverse fields are
short term and relatively low cost, such as attending a short
course and undertaking volunteer work at a social and therapeutic Thrive Briefing
horticulture project. Others may involve gaining accredited
qualifications meaning more commitment of time and money, and Sheet no:
are dependent upon the availability of courses in the area.
Training and development routes
Overseas information The following sets of options are appropriate for most people who
contact Thrive for advice on careers in social and therapeutic
Associations in horticulture.
www.hort.vt.edu/human/ For people coming into the profession with a horticulture
· Attend a training day in social and therapeutic horticulture
The American · Attend a training day relating to a specific disability group
Horticultural Therapy or disability awareness
Association · Gain experience by working or volunteering at a project –
201 East Main Street, contact Thrive for a list of projects requiring volunteers in
Suite 1405, Lexington, your area.
KY 40507-2004, USA · Take a social and therapeutic horticulture course that leads
www.ahta.org to a formal qualification (there may be exemptions from
parts of the course for existing qualifications or experience)
Department of · If you have horticultural experience but no qualification
Horticulture, take a horticulture course that leads to a formal
Kansas State University, qualification
Watershall, Manhattan, · Attend a horticulture course that increases existing
Kansas 66506-5506, horticultural skills e.g. a person qualified in nursery
USA production could broaden their area of expertise through a
www.oznet.ksu.edu/hortt course in amenity horticulture or garden design.
For people from a social or healthcare background such as
The Canadian occupational therapy or nursing:
Horticultural Therapy · Attend a training day in social and therapeutic horticulture
Association or a course relating to horticulture
CHTA Head Office, 70, · Gain experience by working or volunteering at a
Westmount Road, Guelph, horticulture project. Contact Thrive for a list of projects
Ontario N1H 5H8 requiring volunteers in your area
www.chta.ca · Take a social and therapeutic horticulture course that leads
to a formal qualification (there may be exemptions from
Horticultural Therapy parts of the course for existing qualifications or experience)
Association of Victoria Inc · Take a social care course that leads to a qualification at a
39 Wetherby Road, higher level or in a specialist area.
Doncaster, Victoria 3109
Australia For people coming from school or college, or wanting a career
arden/html/htav.html · Attend a training day in social and therapeutic horticulture,
to gain an understanding of the subject and to meet people
working in the field
· Gain experience by volunteering at a horticulture project.
Contact Thrive for a list of projects requiring volunteers in
· Take a social and therapeutic horticulture course which
leads to a formal qualification
· Take a course in horticulture or social care that contains an
option module in social and therapeutic horticulture and
leads to a formal qualification.
There are more courses in social and therapeutic horticulture Japan Herb School
available now than ever before, so it is important to investigate 1-13-18 Higashi-Kanda,
carefully to see whether a course is appropriate to meet your Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 101,
needs. To supplement expertise working at a project, a one-day Japan
course may 'fill a gap' with training in a particular area, without (runs primary course in
the need to undertake a longer course. Study the course Therapeutic Horticulture
prospectus carefully to determine what will be covered and who developed in conjunction
will be involved (and what expertise they have) in running the with Thrive)
course. Asking about the following will help you get an overall feel
for the course: Japan Horticultural
· How long has the course run? Therapy Society
· Can you speak to someone who has taken the course? 5-12-5-401 Roppongi
· Who is the validating body or external examiner? Minato-ku
· How often is the course re-validated and updated? Tokyo, Japan
· How many students have progressed through the course?
· Are there opportunities for the student group to meet if it is
a distance or flexible learning type course?
· What modifications have been made to the course since it
was first introduced?
If there is no course to suit your particular personal and work
circumstances, don't despair – some of the career options
identified above might be appropriate.
The following are accredited courses in social and therapeutic
horticulture known to Thrive. Other courses might be developed
which will be available in the future.
· Professional Development Diploma in Social and Therapeutic
Horticulture, Coventry University. Tel: 024 7679 5957.
The above course is run in partnership with Thrive; details are
available on the Thrive website www.thrive.org.uk or from
· Professional Development Diploma in Social and Therapeutic
Horticulture, Askham Bryan College, York. Tel: 01904 772211
· Foundation Degree in Animals and Horticulture as Therapy,
Myerscough College, Lancashire. Tel: 01995 642211.
These courses contain modules in social and therapeutic
horticulture that can also be attended as short courses:
· BSc Landscape Management Degree Courses, Reading
University. Tel: 0118 931 8071
· BSc Occupational Therapy, Coventry University. Tel: 024
Thrive Training and Education Programme
The programme offers a variety of opportunities tailored in a series
Information of days to encompass individual learning needs. The training days
are held in three regions; South, Midlands and North, and should
have something for everyone — whether you are recently
Events: conferences and employed, newly qualified in horticulture, health and social care
training events are listed managers/practitioners and those who have numerous years of
at www.thrive.org.uk experience and knowledge.
Courses: listings in
Horticulture Week and
Continuing Professional Development
other specialist care
magazines; annual Some professions ask the qualified individual to undertake
Educational Supplements continuing professional development (CPD) through conferences,
of Horticulture Week for training events and research. As social and therapeutic horticulture
mainly horticultural is self regulating, it is good practice to continually update skills
courses; College of and knowledge, keep training records to prove consistency and
Occupational Therapy provide evidence to employers and/or funders.
www.cot.org.uk (Tel: 020
7357 6480) and the
Thrive’s quality assurance scheme “Cultivating Quality” can help
Thrive training and
to demonstrate evidence of continuous improvement both at a
project level and also CPD for individuals working within the field
of social and therapeutic horticulture.
Jobs: advertised in
Community Care, The
Guardian, and Horticulture
Also on the Thrive