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At Horizon House we strive towards a holistic approach towards intervention.  All our therapeutic interventions are managed within a professional team (social work, occupational therapy, nursing) and with daily coordination with work area instructors and caregivers.

The unique needs of our client system, activities of daily living, organization of work areas, exercise and recreation are all integrated in order to create a therapeutic environment.

What is ecotherapy?

Ecotherapy is an umbrella term for nature-based approaches to healing. Eco Therapy is an approach or a framework of reference from which one work, and not a specific technique only. There are many different forms of intervention, depending on the environment, available resources and target groups. Horizon House is in a privileged position to be situated in an environment surrounded by nature; vineyards, lemon and olive orchards, and a freshwater dam. Ecotherapy activities at Horizon House will take place under the guidance of therapist in groups as well as on a one-on-one basis. While most ecotherapy sessions take place in natural settings, some activities will be done indoors as well.

The Eco Therapist will work closely with the rest of the therapy team as well as the Head of Maintenance in overseeing activities in the garden, including planning gardening tasks and running therapeutic gardening sessions with a particular emphasis on creating and developing a healing and a welcoming place for all.

Some of the more common (there are many) ecotherapy activities are:

Horticultural therapy:

The use of plants and garden-related activities such as digging soil, preparing soil for planting, planting seedlings, weeding and watering garden beds, trimming leaves and branches, and crop harvesting creates a sense of giving and nurturing. For the purpose of the Horizon House “From the Garden to the Table” project, activities such as packing and labelling will also be included.

Involvement in conservation activities:

The act of restoring or conserving the natural environment can assist in creating a sense of purpose, hope and freedom. Activities will focus on creating areas where wildlife, e.g. birds can enjoy a save space for feeding, drinking and resting without being caged. Creating awareness of a no-kill or no-harm policy towards birds, insects, reptiles will also be linked to the environmental care.

Physical exercise in a natural environment:

This can include activities such as nature walks, yoga, fishing and simple outdoor gym exercises. These types of activities foster increased awareness of the natural world, reality orientation, life changes (seasons), reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and anger.

Animal-assisted therapy:

AAT (Animal-assisted therapy) is a goal oriented, planned and structured therapeutic intervention. Intervention progress is measured and included in professional documentation. AAT is delivered and/or directed by a formally trained professional with expertise within the scope of the professionals’ practice. AAT focuses on enhancing physical, cognitive, behavioural and/or socio-emotional functioning of an individual, couple or group.

Environmental care and maintenance:

Since this activity is usually done in groups, it may also help foster a sense of belonging and connectedness while simultaneously improving one’s mood. To care for the environment promotes self worth, respect for others and social interaction. Garden maintenance can also be done successfully on an individual basis. To entrust a person with a specific task e.g. mowing as specific piece of lawn, raking leaves, pruning, harvesting, weeding a specific flower bed etc creates as sense of pride and achievement.

Nature meditation:

Meditation can take place in a natural setting, such as a park, forest, garden, next to a dam. The group may identify something in nature which attracts them and then spend a few minutes contemplating how this aspect of nature relates to them and what they can learn from it.

Implementation

Ecotherapy as form of intervention will be phased in at Horizon House. Within the boundaries and available resources, not all of the above-mentioned activities will be introduced at the start of the programme. It will be a work-in-progress with continuous assessment by the therapy team.

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