Integration of biological and psychological factors in horticultural therapy for cancer patients: focused on making grass dolls, transplanting, and making tea with herb plants

S.M. Lee, G.M. Gim, S.H. Jeong, Y.H. Choi
This study was conducted to investigate the integration of biological and psychological factors that occurred in horticultural therapy for cancer patients. Through this study, we can infer how the process of internalization generates the psychological outcome in horticultural therapy programs for cancer patients. In the process of making and raising grass dolls some patients noted that “when the grass doll had no grass at all, all my hair had fallen out, but while the grass was sprouting, my hair began to regrow”. Similarly, they stated that “I had mixed emotions when I looked at the hair of the grass doll, because chemotherapy for cancer was over now, and my hair was growing”. They recognized that their grass doll resembled their own selves and their experience of hair loss and hair regrowth in the process of chemotherapy. We can infer from this that cancer patients identify with hair growth and hope, such as growth, development, and recovery. In the program, cancer patients also trimmed the roots of herbal plants such as lavender and rosemary during transplanting. Horticultural therapists explained that trimming unnecessary roots helped the growth of stems, leaves, and new roots. The therapists then gave clients the opportunity to consider negative thoughts or feelings which needed to be trimmed within themselves. Transplanted herbal plants were managed and nurtured by the clients, and their harvested and dried leaves were used to make herbal tea. In the process of those activities some patients found a lot of benefit: “I felt purification of body and mind, and elimination of miscellaneous thoughts while making herb tea. Even a small plant smells nice. I should be a person who has a good and beautiful fragrance.” The results suggest that cancer patients recognized the disease experience as personal growth. Horticultural therapists can use these findings as a basic reference to guide and support their clients in their programs.
Lee, S.M., Gim, G.M., Jeong, S.H. and Choi, Y.H. (2019). Integration of biological and psychological factors in horticultural therapy for cancer patients: focused on making grass dolls, transplanting, and making tea with herb plants. Acta Hortic. 1246, 23-26
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1246.4
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2019.1246.4
parallel issue, therapeutic factors, metaphorical object, hope
English