What Are the Advantages of a Sensory Garden Over Other Forms of Therapy?
The benefits of sensory gardens are well known, if not fully understood. They can be used to help non-responsive individuals feel better connected with their surroundings whilst bringing a sense of deep relaxation to over-stimulated individuals. This carries numerous benefits for personal development and mental health, within both therapeutic and educational environments.
Since sensory gardens are a relatively new concept in therapy – a concept that advocates a highly individualised, patient-centred approach – their therapeutic efficacy is difficult to quantify. But while quantitative research may be limited, the benefits of sensory gardens to the individual are becoming increasingly well recognised by healthcare and educational professionals all over the world.
Therapeutic Benefits of a Sensory Garden
- Provides a safe, non-threatening environment in which individuals can feel free to explore and express themselves
- Promotes better communication between a service user/student and their therapist/teacher
- Helps individuals with sensory disorders to develop or reactivate their remaining senses
- Stimulates the sensory neurons, helping visitors develop their sense of cause and effect
- Can even assist in the relief and management of physical pain
Benefits for Mental Health
- Helps individuals get back in touch with nature, nurturing a sense of calm and relaxation
- Can be used as a coping strategy, improving mental, emotional and physical wellbeing in the long term
- Resolves negative thoughts and feelings, including anxiety and fear
- Minimises counterproductive and harmful behaviours such as aggression and substance abuse
- Heightens awareness (AKA mindfulness), enabling individuals to get the most out of life
Benefits for Personal Development
- Aids the development of fine and gross motor skills, including hand-eye coordination
- Supports cognitive/intellectual development, including problem solving, memory and language
- Improves the individual’s ability to interact, communicate and share with others
- Increases confidence and helps the individual develop a strong sense of empowerment
- Promotes self-care and resilience
Benefits for Learning
- Engages students on multiple levels to appeal to all different ‘learning styles’
- Helps individuals digest, understand and retain information more effectively
- Encourages greater involvement in class and one-on-one tutorials
- Heightens focus and concentration
- Promotes creativity
The benefits of sensory gardens are recognised across a number of different sectors and establishments, including care homes, psychiatric hospitals, and mainstream and special schools.