Posts Tagged ‘PTSD’

“Soft Touch For A Silent Voice: Therapeutic Gardens for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” – Masters Thesis by Michelle Parkins

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
Photo by Michelle Parkins, Soft Touch For A Silent Voice

Photo by Michelle Parkins. "The response to the veterans survey about water really illustrated to me the connections veterans (and others) have with water as a healing aid."

I met Michelle Parkins last May when I was teaching at the Chicago Botanic Gardens Healthcare Garden Design Certificate Program, and was immediately impressed by her commitment to her MLA research project on gardens for veterans with PTSD and other combat-related issues. Since then, Michelle has completed her thesis, which is available as a beautifully bound book at www.lulu.com/product/paperback/soft-touch-for-a-silent-voice. Below is the thesis abstract and a bit about Michelle, a veteran herself.Therapeutic Gardens for Veterans. Michelle Parkins and Annie Kirk

Michelle (that’s her on the left in the red jacket), in collaboration with Annie Kirk, principal at Red Bird Design and founder of the Acer Institute, recently created Therapeutic Gardens for Veterans groups on Linked In and Facebook. These groups are a “Collaboratory to advance therapeutic garden environments as an extension of support and care for veterans & their families.” I encourage everyone interested in this subject to join in on the conversation.

Here is what Michelle writes about herself and her interest in this subject:

My adventures in life have seemed to always evolve around the military; growing up an ‘Army Brat’ triggered my interest. My time in the Navy consisted of great travel overseas and the education I received both in and out of Navy was invaluable. Due to an injury, my time in the Navy was cut short, however my respect for my fellow veterans and active duty military has never gone away. As a veteran using the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, I saw first hand the need and potential benefits for utilizing the outdoor garden spaces as VA hospitals and clinics. Although I have completed my Master’s of Landscape Architecture I plan to pursue the research and possible consultation of gardens for veterans.

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A Masters thesis on Healing Gardens for Veterans with PTSD

Friday, November 11th, 2011
Image courtesy of Care2.com

Image courtesy of Care2.com

It’s Veteran’s Day, 2011, a good time to highlight some new research on gardens for veterans with PTSD. This is such an important topic, and Brock Anderson decided to make it his Thesis for his Master of Landscape Architecture at Utah State University.

“An Exploration of the Potential Benefits of Healing Gardens on Veterans with PTSD,” by Brock Anderson, is now availalble online for download at http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/gradreports/50/.

Here’s the Abstract:

Healing gardens are places that facilitate in improving or restoring an individual’s mental or physical health. Today, therapeutic landscape design is a growing facet of landscape architecture. This study looks at the potential benefits of using healing gardens in addition to traditional methods of treatment for veterans suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A reasonable amount of research has been done into the area of therapeutic landscapes and their influence on certain populations, but the potential positive effects these healing gardensmay hold for veterans suffering from PTSD seems to be unidentified. This study examines the history of healing gardens, problems facing veteran populations today, current treatment methods for PTSD, and how healing gardens could be beneficial to veterans with PTSD. A Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare facility that is in the process of implementing a healing garden was usedto determine how their PTSD patients will potentially use a healing garden space during treatment.

The purpose of this study was to describe some of the potential benefits that healing gardens could have on veterans suffering from PTSD. Other VA facilities can use this information in the future when implementing healing gardens for PTSD patients. This study is intended to increase awareness of the potential benefits healing gardens might hold for veterans suffering from PTSD and encourage further research into the area.

Recommended citation: Anderson, Brock Justin, “An Exploration of the Potential Benefits of Healing Gardens on Veterans with PTSD” (2011). All Graduate Reports and Creative Projects. Paper 50. http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/gradreports/50

Many thanks to Brock for sharing this with us!

And if that weren’t enough great stuff for one day, here’s an excellent article by Janet Brown, published recently in Healthcare Design Magazine, about a wonderful healing garden and horticultural therapy program at the East Orange NJ Veterans Affairs: http://www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com/article/va-campus-takes-healing-gardens.

"Defiant Gardens" and Other Resources for Veterans

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Image courtesy of Gardening Leave

For this post, on Veterans Day in the United States, I’d like to share some information about resources specifically for veterans.

While many veterans returning home from war have to deal with physical trauma, almost all suffer from emotional trauma and strain. On the extreme end is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can be debilitating for not just the individual veterans but for their entire family and community. More and more research has been coming out about gardening, exposure to nature in a safe setting, and horticultural therapy as effective tools for fighting PTSD and other stress-related problems.

Here are some resources about work that is being done around this issue:
Gardening Leave (www.gardeningleave.org) is a UK charity, founded by Anna Baker Cresswell, for ex-Servicemen and women with PTSD and other mental health troubles. The goal is to combat stress through horticultural therapy activities – growing fruit and vegetables – in a walled garden setting, where people feel safe and protected. The program has been developed in accordance with plans by Combat Stress (Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society).

The Acer Institute, founded and directed by P. Annie Kirk, teamed up with the ASLA Healthcare and Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network in 2005 to host a day-long conference, “Therapeutic Garden Design and Veterans Affairs: Preparing for Future Needs” at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center. You can download most of the presentations, see photos and movies, and even request the CD, on which all of the information is compiled, from Acer’s website. Since that conference, Annie has been creating a list of therapeutic (healing) gardens at VA Facilities. You can access this list from Acer website’s VA healthcare page (you just have to fill out a short form first). You can also add to the list, helping Acer to keep building this knowledge base.

Another great resource is the website Defiant Gardens, which came from Kenneth Helphand‘s book by the same name. I am so impressed with Helphand’s scholarship, and my admiration goes beyond his consistently good research and writing. In this case, it’s truly inspiring.

What are “defiant gardens?” They are, in the words of the author, “…gardens created in extreme or difficult environmental, social, political, economic, or cultural conditions. These gardens represent adaptation to challenging circumstances, but they can also be viewed from other dimensions as sites of assertion and affirmation.” Helphand’s book focuses on “Trench Gardens” on the Western Front in WWI, “Ghetto Gardens” in Nazi Europe, “Barbed-Wire Gardens” created by allied prisoners of war and civilian internees in Europe and Asia in the World Wars, gardens in Japanese internment camps in the United States during WWII, and gardens following WWII.

What I appreciate most about the website is that it includes information from the book, but also keeps going from there, encompassing prison gardens, community gardens, and gardens in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and even Guantanamo. The most recent post is the text from a New York Times article on gardens in Afghanistan.
And here’s another really nice post by my fellow landscape architecture and blogger colleague Rochelle Greayer: “I Gardened for My Life: The Defiant Gardens of POWs on Veterans Day.” Thanks for the mention, Rochelle. Always happy to inspire:)
And finally, here’s a link from the Farmer-Veteran Coalition (Farmers helping veterans, veterans helping farmers”) to a post about Nadia McAffrey, a Gold Star Mother (she lost her son in the Iraq war) who founded Veterans Village “to provide compassionate healing and living environments for returning veterans damaged by their war experience.” They are expanding to sites in Minnesota and New York, “where land is available for farming and gardening – important components for both the healing and the livelihood for the communities.” Thanks so much to Sharon for these links!