How do Participants in Nature-Based Therapy Experience and Evaluate Their Rehabilitation?
Eva Sahlin, Josefa Vega Matuszczyk, Gunnar Ahlborg, Jr. and Patrik Grahn

Nature-Based Therapeutic (NBT) programs have increased in number in Sweden during the past decade. These programs often comprise two parts: (1) traditional medical rehabilitation methods used for stress-related disorders which are professionally integrated into a nature context; and (2) activities, or simply being, in a garden and/or nature. This study aims to increase the knowledge of how to develop effective rehabilitation programs for individuals suffering from stress-related mental disorders by exploring how participants in an NBT program experienced, explained, and evaluated their rehabilitation.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight women and three men participating in the NBT program, and were further analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes emerged: being in the right or wrong phase; experiencing existential dimensions; and changing dysfunctional patterns of thoughts/behaviors.

Experiencing nature’s pace and participating in activities in the garden allowed practice in doing one thing at a time, not rushing things, and allowing oneself to take breaks. Belonging to a social context was important, as was seeing oneself in other´s similar situations. Support from the multi-disciplinary team was vital for developing tools and strategies to better manage everyday demands. Sufficient time for a first recovery period at home to rest before starting rehabilitation is necessary for this group of patients, and a garden or nature may be a supportive environment for stress recovery and rehabilitation for them.

Visual Preference for Garden Design: Appreciation of the Japanese Garden
Seiko Goto, PhD

Viewing is the most traditional way to experience a garden. This pilot study was undertaken to evaluate visual preference for different garden designs. Subjects from different age groups were asked which of eight different gardens they preferred, based upon viewing photographs. Results showed that 1) the Japanese garden was the most preferred style, and 2) this preference was similar for those with and without physical experience of the space, and across age groups. Minor variations were observed in the preferences of some subjects, suggesting that factors related to experience or interest may affect preference for garden style.

The Application of a Horticultural Therapy Program for Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Karen M. Flick

A horticultural therapy program could be a beneficial intervention for a population of preschool aged children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), due to their specific developmental delays and comorbid impairments. This paper examines the developmental conditions and deficits of a child with ASD, including stress, incongruous responses to typical sensory stimuli, and a lack of motivation, and then looks at addressing these issues through the potential application of horticultural therapy programming. Because there is little research on therapeutic horticulture and children with ASD to guide the development of a therapeutic program, one must proceed cautiously to minimize any distress resulting from adjustments to their routine.