Konrad Neuberger - Psychotherapy HPG

Horticultural Therapy

Many aspects of Horticultural Therapy you will find at other sites.

On this site I have confined myself more to psychotherapy and related aspects which are less prominent at other sites on HT. May be this is what you are interested in.

Psychotherapy practised in a garden?

Working in a garden can be used to solve problems. Through gardening activities it is possible to identify difficulties and problems and to physically work through them and overcome their implications.

Practising garden therapy comprises individual and communal activities, both of which are supported by communication and conversation. This kind of therapy uses methods which are practical and kinaesthetic – systemic, hypnotherapeutic and body therapeutic methods can be implemented as well. Moreover, it is intended to be short-lasting therapy, but may be practised for longer periods of time, as may be prescribed for severe illnesses, like psychoses. I have worked a lot with people suffering from psychoses during the last 20 years but with many other clinical pictures also.

At least, we are all humans.

Psychotherapy and Horticultural Therapy

You will find a combination of horticultural therapy and psychotherapy: emotional and mental processes, verbalized and "nurtured" during the therapeutic process, can lead to a personal change through horticultural tasks, that make one feel connected and meaningful. Methods include Gestalt-therapy, systemic therapy, movement therapy and a conceptual framework developed through working with psychiatric patients for twenty years. Read more about it in one of the articles listed in > Supply and Demand > articles

Therapy in a garden can be oriented with important horticultural activities:

I developed a method to describe visible and recognizable activities and resulting psychological processes.

With preparation of the seed and the plant bed, basic experiences are addressed: what does the individual see? what is she aware of? what does he want to reach? A person might acknowledge how his capacity and skills grow to cope with heavy and difficult tasks. E.g. digging the soil may have a disturbing influence, while raking the surface of the soil has, for most people, a calming effect.

With sowing the first visible growth and the unfurling of the first leaf, something is started which affirms the individual. They foster hope and the excitement for something new. When acknowledging the growth of plants, the individual may identify and cultivate his own capability for change and development. With planting out a new step is being made: young plants are placed carefully in the soil and are carefully watered. A comparison with one’s own place in life may come to mind, together with thoughts about personal space, vital for personal development.

In order to grow healthily and strongly, plants benefit from the care and protection afforded to them by human beings. Through caring for the plant, a patient may be practising, like every other human being, those activities that are good for him or herself.

What will I be reaping?

In psychotherapy some of the above will be connected with one’s personal situation, which can be explored, verbalized and anchored physically in a new context. The objective is to recognize that „that one’s own hands are a tool for change“ and development and to identify, develop and change one’s own feelings and emotions. (see >Offers and Demands > articles)

Conceptual Background

My conceptual background is a combination of several elements, centred in moving human beings and their bodies as the anchor of emotions and mentality. Some are mentioned here:

Physical Experiences are Affecting Consciousness

Physical experiences help to connect therapeutic work with real work and useful movements with sensitivity and emotions. Cognition may be anchored in physical experiences.


„Gardens may be seen as something made larger rather than contracted. It is the inner landscape projected.“ (Paul Shepard, Professor for Human Ecology, Pitzer College)

Self Efficacy

„ ...the less our efforts are connected to consciousness-related experiences, the less lively, sensibly relations to the social and material environment are formed.“ (Hugo Kuekelhaus)


„Psychological processes stimulate the engagement with the environment. Reversely human beings are inspired by activities in the environment to an intense inner experience. With every contact human senses are used. They function at the contact-boundary.“ (Fritz Perls, Gestalt Therapy)

Working Gestures

„Mental and emotional states can be expressed by working gestures.“ (Hans Dackweiler, Gedanken zum Wesen der Arbeit)

Inside and outside

„As soon as I move something while gardening, I move something inside myself.“

More Ideas for Psychotherapy in the Garden

Using gardening as a therapeutic means is broadening the possibilities of psychotherapy. Garden work may be used to find solutions for personal problems through the special environment of the garden. Personal difficulties may be recognized and steps be taken to change them … more >Offers and Demands > articles [Arbeit im Garten als Metapher.pdf]

Gardening offers opportunities to experience limitations, growth, hope and other issues and to make them visible by working with plants and soil ....more > Offers and Demands > Articles [Arbeit im Garten als Metapher.pdf]

You work at the basis of what is nourishing and supporting you. You expose your body to air, sun and rain and exercise your ability to recognize, to enjoy, persevere or to change.

Step for step you can connect thoughts and emotions and you can loosen them, if needed, depending on your needs. Activities with plants help to assimilate it physically. „Working in a garden as metaphor (Die Arbeit im Garten als Metapher - in German)“.

Look at Supply >"articles" for English articles

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