Digging into Horticulture Therapy

Everyone who knows me knows I’m biased about outdoor behavioral healthcare.  I used to work in it, I’m an advocate of it, and I strongly believe the power of this type of intervention on an adolescent, young adult, and the entire family system.  Within this last year, I’ve been able to visit the field area of several different outdoor behavioral healthcare programs.  Some are nomadic, some are adventure-based, and all are becoming more and more specialized in who they serve.  After every visit, I continue to be impressed.  There’s one program that really stands out to me as being misrepresented. It’s not technically an outdoor behavioral healthcare program.  It’s a horticulture therapy program.  That program is Pacific Quest (PQ).

Ironically, I’ve had families ask me before to find “something warmer” in terms of a wilderness program for their young adult.  Being empathetic, I know the underlying request lies in a belief that they don’t want their child to be uncomfortable.  Naturally, a warmer climate would appear to be more comfortable.  I had the privilege of recently visiting PQ, and to me, PQ would have been the hardest. 

Take me out any day in the cold where I have appropriately layered clothing and anticipated physically draining activities.  I’d eat that right up!  Again, I’m biased.  It’s the warm, wet, humid, and dirt from gardening that would bring me to my knees.  Everyone’s threshold is different.  Maybe someone would love this, and maybe for other client this would be a daily challenge.  To each their own.  What’s important to note is that I was utterly impressed.

Horticulture therapy is a therapeutic intervention proven to be effective.  It’s non-discriminatory and coupled with The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, you find a remarkable clinically sophisticated way in supporting individual clients.  The work they are doing is vastly different than others, and I’m eager to see the growth produced at their new location.

Pacific Quest is not wilderness therapy.It is so much more.The metaphors about Sustainable Growth are rich.The opportunity to see growth in real-time from seeds planted while at PQ, is abundant.PQ is their own island in terms of individualized approach and therapeutic intervention.I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to visit and to witness first-hand what makes PQ unique.

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