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Have you ever considered a career in horticultural therapy? Whether you are new to the sector or looking to advance your knowledge, Thrive has a variety of courses to suit your needs and skill level.

The Pandemic saw rapid growth in the wider use of gardening to maintain mental and physical wellbeing for many people. Moreover, there has been a steady growth in recent years of organisations across the UK which provide Social and Therapeutic Horticulture for service users. And running in tandem with this is an increasing need for qualified practitioners.

A career in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) is a highly rewarding one. Working as a practitioner will see you help individuals to work collaboratively, gaining a sense of purpose and responsibility while learning new skills.

Working as an STH practitioner is very rewarding and gives me immense job satisfaction. It’s wonderful to be able to combine my love of gardening with supporting a range of people with disabilities and make a difference to their lives.

Michele McLoughlin, Thrive practitioner

A trained practitioner uses plants and gardens to enable people to improve their mental and physical health, develop social skills, combat isolation and promote learning. People with mental ill health, disabilities and long-term health conditions benefit from programmes around the world.

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Guiding a client gardener

Thrive’s Training and Education Manager, Damien Newman, believes that volunteering is an excellent way to gain an insight into practicing STH. Many of Thrive’s volunteers have stayed for years and enjoy the interaction with clients, learning new gardening skills. Thrive offers many volunteer opportunities that can help introduce you to STH practice and allow you to gain valuable experience that is often prioritised in recruitment.

Volunteers bring good experience and enrich the already positive social environment that can be found in STH. Volunteers get the pleasure of supporting client gardeners but perhaps less of the burden of ensuring all the work is done.

Damien Newman

If you decide that you’d like to learn a little more about STH then one of Thrive’s Foundation courses might be perfect. Some of these sessions are on-line and free and aim to give students a taste of the role of the practitioner in different practice settings. Some of what you’ll learn includes:

  • Generalised benefits of gardening
  • Key theories on why gardens are therapeutic
  • How gardens and gardening can be utilised as therapy
  • Different models of horticulture as therapy
  • The role of the practitioner
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Learning in the classroom

If you’re interested to know more about this course and Thrive’s workshops you’ll find all the information here: training courses and workshops

If you feel ready for the next step in your new career you might think about taking one of our advanced courses. These are targeted at those looking to become experts in STH and tailor programmes to specific client groups and settings. Thrive’s Award in STH will give you the confidence, knowledge and tools to develop and deliver effective outcome based programmes, and if you’d like to achieve the highest and currently only Diploma in STH offered in the UK, then our part-time two-year Diploma course is for you!

I loved studying for the Diploma, I wanted a complete career change, but didn’t have any experience in STH. This course has taught me so much and I now have a job at a therapeutic garden, it’s been such an exciting year and I love what I do.

course member

If you’re looking to continue your learning and build knowledge in a specific area, take a look at the specialist courses we offer. They’re mainly suitable for professionals, practitioners and volunteers who want to deepen their understanding, develop their skills and implement their own STH programme.

Examples of specific areas include disability garden design, outcome measurement, or supporting individuals with specific needs such as learning disabilities or mental illness.

Thrive courses are recognised as providing teaching expertise to the real-world delivery of STH. We are recognised for our outstanding quality with participants regularly scoring us 100 per cent for course satisfaction.

Across the green care sector our reputation means employers recognise the value of employing Thrive trained practitioners. Completion of our Award and Diploma has led to people gaining full time and part time employment.

Damien Newman

So whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced gardener, a rewarding career in STH beckons. Many of the courses are flexible enabling students to fit them around existing commitments.

Thrive has always produced first class training and is recognised as having a gold standard that everyone looks up to and recognises.

Dr Joe Sempik, author and retired professor at Loughborough University

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