My Horticultural Therapy Journey
Fung, Connie Yuen Yee, HTR RSW
President,Hong Kong Association of Therapeutic Horticulture
“What is Horticultural Therapy? I haven’t heard about it.”
“You are Horticultural Therapist. Do you take care of sick plants and save them?”
“Are you a horticulturist?”
Horticultural therapy is new in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is an international financial city. It is economical and materialistic. Green life seems to be a dessert in a big meal. Starting horticultural therapy in Hong Kong is really challenging.
I step into the world of Horticultural Therapy by luck. Back to the year of 2000, I worked as a program director at a new pilot project for dementia. There is a beautiful garden which was specially designed for demented elderly. I was responsible to develop the garden: “The Greenery”. I started my journey in Horticultural Therapy from the Greenery which is a good memory to me forever.
In the beginning, I did some planting activities with the elderly. We planted flowers, vegetables and….. As time flew, I realized that there was chemical reaction between horticultural activities and demented elderly. When they worked with plants, their smiles were so amazing and touching. Horticultural activities are more than horticulture. Horticulture has therapeutic values.
In 2004, I was sponsored to attend a Horticultural Therapy Certificate Course at Providence Farm in Vancouver Island. I met my instructor, Christine Pollard and many wonderful classmates from different parts of the world. Afterwards, I registered as a Horticultural Therapist Registered with America Horticultural Therapy Association.
A year later, I made an important decision in my career life. I wished to focus and explore more into the world of Horticultural Therapy. Therefore, I set up Hong Kong Horticultural Therapy Centre to develop and promote Horticultural Therapy in Hong Kong.
With two years’ hard work, Horticultural Therapy is developing in Hong Kong. Basically, I have four core tasks: horticultural therapy promotion, horticultural therapy trainings, horticultural therapeutic groups and therapeutic landscape design.
In the area of horticultural therapy promotion, there are induction workshops, sharing sessions, mass media interviews and connection with worldwide HT professionals.
For horticultural therapy trainings, targets include professionals and public. I will conduct induction course and stress management courses for general public. In-depth HT training courses are tailor-made for professionals such as nurses, social workers, teachers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and so on.
In the area of horticultural therapeutic groups, I am expertise at leading HT groups for elderly especially those demented and with depressive mood. I also lead HT groups for elementary and high school students. I am now starting HT groups for those with mental retardation and mental illness.
Therapeutic landscape is very new in Hong Kong. I have developed a Horticultural Therapy Corner at a Farm with a landscape designer. In coming year, there is a project of developing a therapeutic HT landscape in a botanic garden. In Hong Kong, there is limitation of outdoor space for HT development. It is hoped to develop indoor gardens for horticultural therapy.
Recently, Hong Kong Association of Therapeutic Horticulture was established. Its mission is to promote horticultural therapy.
For future development, horticultural therapy researches can contribute more HT evidence base. Also, more sharing with other HT professionals are important to provide quality HT programs.
What is my feeling of the past years’ commitment in the world of Horticultural Therapy?
It is really hard work and challenging. I feel a bit lonely as I am the only Horticultural Therapist in Hong Kong and China. However, I enjoy every step in my Horticultural Therapy journey. I know and believe that I will get support from HT family.?
“Some people see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not?”Robert F. Kennedy