Recovery is like a garden: requiring maintenance, patience, and attention. Both involve weeding out the old, nurturing, planting new seeds (ideas), and tending. Both are alive and real, and provide tangible results, building self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. Growth and change occur, needing patience to see through the change.
Kristin Burdge, MSW, a former counselor at Phoenix House, developed a horticultural therapy program at the Girls Recovery Lodge in Arlington, VA. She shared her experience with us, as well as the healing the garden brings to clients in recovery.
Horticultural therapy (HT) is a time-proven practice. The therapeutic benefits of garden environments have been documented since ancient times. In the 19th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and recognized as the “Father of American Psychiatry,” was first to document the positive effects working in a garden has on individuals with mental illness. Today, HT is accepted as a beneficial and effective therapeutic modality. It is widely used within a broad range of rehabilitative, vocational, and community settings.
One of the young gardeners at the recovery lodge this summer shared her poem with us, “God, garden me the serenity to accept the weeds we cannot maintain, courage to pull the weeds we can, and the wisdom to know the daffodil.” It was accompanied by a drawing of her garden, surrounded by the words: Courage, Serenity, Wisdom.
Kristin used the stages of change wheel to guide the therapeutic process. “[The clients] can see the parallel of the garden and relate it to their own lives through the stages of change model. My first assignment was to have the girls draw the plant cycle of growth onto the stages of change wheel. This illustrated how the plants are growing and changing just like we are, slowly and with great care and nurturing.”
Since 1962, Phoenix House Mid‐Atlantic has served more than 30,000 individuals struggling with substance abuse. Every day, Phoenix House Mid‐Atlantic helps hundreds of people who are suffering from addiction in programs in Virginia and Washington D.C. Call us today at: 1 888 671 9392 to learn more.