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[cg] gardening/mental health


Liz Gregory wrote requesting info. on horticultural therapy. The Family 
Habitat Garden Project (FHGP) is a collaborative, community based 
prevention/intervention program for traumatized children. The program was 
developed at The Children's Advocacy center to treat children who are at-risk 
due to negative family and environmental influences such as: domestic 
violence, substance abuse, violent crime, homelessness, gangs and physical or 
sexual abuse.

The FHGP offers a multidimensional approach to treating child trauma.  The 
garden-based treatment model reduces physiological stress, teaches effective 
coping skills and seeks to enhance protective factors in the child, in the 
family and in the community.  The sensory, hands-on approach to treatment 
links therapeutic goals with outdoor education objectives.  Children receive 
individual, trauma-specific therapy and also participate in groups that are 
designed to develop resiliency, adaptive coping and social competency.  the 
outdoor education component of theproject incorporates the Arizona Math and 
Science Skills for K-8 within the larger therapeutic framework to support 
academic success for at-risk youth.  Additional activities (the EarthSaver's 
Club) which includes non-offending family members, is available to provide 
emotional support for the victim and to normalize family functioning.

Each of the Family Habitat Garden projects is  adapted to the needs of the 
community where it is located.  Our most recent project is a school-based 
model.  The school community designed and developed a native wildlife habitat 
and food garden.  Children who are victims of crime  are  referred for the 
therapeutic gardening activities, but the school benefits from having an 
outdoor classroom and the community has a fully accessible garden/habitat.

We are currently in the process of conducting outcome research on the 
therapeutic model and writing a treatment manual to accompany the project.  

Linda C. Gray, MA
Director, The Family Habitat Garden Project
The Children's Advocacy Center
Phoenix, AZ

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