Nature-Based Therapy Experience and Evaluate Their Rehabilitation

?How do Participants in Nature-Based Therapy Experience and Evaluate Their Rehabilitation?Eva Sahlin, Josefa Vega Matuszczyk, Gunnar Ahlborg, Jr. and Patrik Grahn

Nature-Based Therapeutic (NBT) programs have increased in number in Sweden during the past decade. These programs often comprise two parts: (1) traditional medical rehabilitation methods used for stress-related disorders which are professionally integrated into a nature context; and (2) activities, or simply being, in a garden and/or nature. This study aims to increase the knowledge of how to develop effective rehabilitation programs for individuals suffering from stress-related mental disorders by exploring how participants in an NBT program experienced, explained, and evaluated their rehabilitation.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight women and three men participating in the NBT program, and were further analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes emerged: being in the right or wrong phase; experiencing existential dimensions; and changing dysfunctional patterns of thoughts/behaviors.

Experiencing nature’s pace and participating in activities in the garden allowed practice in doing one thing at a time, not rushing things, and allowing oneself to take breaks. Belonging to a social context was important, as was seeing oneself in other´s similar situations. Support from the multi-disciplinary team was vital for developing tools and strategies to better manage everyday demands. Sufficient time for a first recovery period at home to rest before starting rehabilitation is necessary for this group of patients, and a garden or nature may be a supportive environment for stress recovery and rehabilitation for them.