Horticultural therapy education and training, based on Vancouver Island, BC:

Explore the fields of horticultural therapy (HT), therapeutic horticulture (TH), and nature-based therapy in an exciting inter-disciplinary program.

HT courses appeal to healthcare professionals, educators, horticulturists, landscape designers and others wishing to learn more about connecting people, plants, and nature. Some students plan to explore career opportunities in horticultural therapy and therapeutic horticulture.

Four courses provide up to 160 hours of lively, land-based instruction and supervised study projects, based near Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.

Please note, this is NOT an on-line learning program. All study units - including students' independent assignments, which explore gardens and natural landscapes near their own homes or places of work, are land-based.


Courses in 2023-24:

For a short summary of the HT Certificate courses and a schedule for 2023-24, please download the 2023-24 HT Certificate PDF file from the bottom of this page.  We follow a traditional academic year for the on-site study units with the fall session geared to new students.

If you wish to be added to  the distribution list for Ann's quarterly newsletter, which provides advance notice for upcoming courses and workshops, please contact Ann at  ann@catkingardens.ca.  

Registration for the two foundation courses for 2023-24 opened on February 1, 2023.  The first option for Programming for All Seasons is now full.  To accommodate recent demand, a second session has been added for the Programming course as it is the prerequisite for the senior courses offered in the spring of 2024. Assignment schedule is the same as for the first session but on-site instructional dates are September 25, 26, 27, 2023.

Registration is now closed for the fall 2023 session of the Creating Therapeutic Gardens course.

Frequently asked questions about horticultural therapy training - FAQ's:

Where are Horticultural Therapy Certificate classes held?

In 2020, Ann realized a long held dream of moving her HT practice and the HT Certificate program from urban locations  in Vancouver to a rural setting on central Vancouver Island. HT courses resumed in 2021, at Misty Woods Farm west of Qualicum Beach. Spacious and well-equipped indoor and outdoor instructional spaces are surrounded by several gardens and a beautiful five-acre forest.  

Students explore settings in which TH, HT, or nature-based wellness programs might be offered and consider the potential for collaboration and partnership with agencies in their own communities.

What about TH and HT programs for specific populations?

Content focuses on evidence-based literature and examples of contemporary horticulture, gardening, and nature-based therapy programs that serve the needs of diverse populations - locally, elsewhere in Canada, and around the world.

Once registered, students receive a list of agencies on Vancouver Island and in the Greater Vancouver area that provide public access to settings that offer TH/HT programs and/or therapeutic gardens. Also included are local habitat or conservation areas that provide opportunities to explore the importance of access to nature and the natural landscape.

Hands-on study units explore adaptations that can be made for activities in horticulture, nature, floral, and botanical craft programs. The small cohort in these courses allows for much discussion in class - we learn a lot from each other's experiences.

For those interested in working in therapeutic horticulture, the first two courses, Programming for All Seasons and Creating Therapeutic Gardens provide excellent foundation knowledge and skill sets.

For those considering work as a horticultural therapist in a clinical setting, Horticultural Therapy Techniques and The Practice of Horticultural Therapy  include units on  developing  specific objectives and measurable outcomes for individual clients and using various methods for documentation. 

What is included in each course fee?                                          

The course fee of $600.00 for each course includes instruction; comprehensive, evidence-based research and reference materials; TH/HT program planning, session planning, and assessment templates; and plant material and other supplies required for hands-on activities.

The teaching team is led by Ann Kent HTM, a registered horticultural therapist and professional member of the CHTA and the AHTA.

Two textbooks are NOT included in the course fees. They are required to support pre-reading lists for each course and to assist with two written assignments that you are given in each course. If you would like to check them out, here are the titles:

The Profession and Practice of Horticultural Therapy, 1st edition, 2019 CRC Press, ed. Rebecca L. Haller, Karen L. Kennedy, Christine L. Capra. 384 pages.

Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces, Daniel Winterbottom and Amy Wagenfeld, Timber Press, 2015. 324 pages.
Unfortunately, this excellent book in now out-of-print.  For those unable to locate it for this year's studies, here is the replacement text - an exceptional resource for all courses in the HT Certificate program:

Designing, Planting and Using a Therapeutic Garden, Sue Jeffries, The Crowood Press, 2023. 224 pages. Available now through Blackwell's in the UK.

Is a statement of completion provided?

Yes. A detailed statement of completion is provided to assist those who are completing continuing education requirements for professional associations in horticultural therapy and related disciplines. The documentation is also helpful to those who apply for funding to support development of TH and HT programs.

A  Horticultural Therapy Certificate is provided upon completion of requirements for all four courses. Courses in the Horticultural Therapy Professional Development Program adhere to the HT Core Skills & Knowledge document published by the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association (CHTA). Courses are eligible for up to 2.0 points toward professional registration with the CHTA. Please visit the CHTA website for current information about voluntary professional registration.

All HT courses instructed by Ann abide by the CHTA's education and professional registration guidelines.

Where do students access funding to support their training in horticultural therapy?

Each year, several students indicate they have successfully accessed funding via the following sources:

  • professional development funds dispersed by the student's employer
  • job-training or skills upgrade funds available via an employee's union or trade association
  • federal and/or provincially managed job training funds
  • scholarships and awards from professional associations in related fields

How big are the classes?

Class size is limited to 10. Early application is advised to ensure placement, to provide time to explore the pre-reading list, and to complete written assignments.

Where can I find more information about therapeutic horticulture and horticultural therapy?

Start with the information and links provided on the Resources page. These will provide you with hours of exploration.

You are encouraged to follow the Horticultural Therapy Professional Development Program Facebook site, which tracks current research and articles of interest in TH and HT. This is a public Facebook site, anyone is welcome to follow it.

Is there a professional association for HT in Canada, or a local network group?

Nationally, the website of the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association provides information about association membership, TH and HT education programs, and the CHTA's annual conference.

Locally, networking is informal.  On Vancouver Island, volunteers have maintained an affiliation with the BC Council of Gardens Clubs as a group called Gardens That Heal - Vancouver Island. You can follow posts about therapeutic gardens and horticulture on a province-wide Facebook site - Gardens That Heal or on our Instagram page at Gardens That Heal -VI

What about gaining practical experience in TH and HT?

Horticultural Therapy internships, practica, and mentorships, in several locations in Canada, are available to students who satisfy the Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association (CHTA) guidelines for education and training in horticultural therapy (HT).  A practicum supervised by Ann is 1000 hours and includes field work and written components. Membership in the CHTA is required.

Sites where Ann supervises TH/HT practica require completion of a British Columbia Criminal Record check. During fall and winter months a flu shot may be mandatory. In most locations, someone engaged in a practicum provide services as  volunteer.

Placements for HT practica with Ann for 2023 and 2024 are fully subscribed. If you are a CHTA member seeking further information about the new CHTA  guidelines for internships or mentorships, please look for current information on the CHTA website at www.chta.ca and address any inquiries to registration@chta.ca.

How might I transition to a career in TH or HT?

As the option for diploma or degree training in TH and HT does not exist in Canada at this time, most students add continuing education courses in TH and HT to academic training and work experience in a horticulture or human service area, thereby acquiring a specific adjunct skill set. Students enrolling in the HT Certificate courses have backgrounds in such fields as horticulture, teaching, social work, occupational therapy, psychology, nursing, and recreational therapy.

Most students are planning to develop new programs in TH or HT in settings where they are already employed. Some, who already have small businesses and/ or good entrepreneurial skill sets, plan to develop TH and HT programs as independent contractors. Various options for employment, and the benefits and challenges of each, are explored in The Practice of Horticultural Therapy course.

For further information about courses or for registration information, contact Ann at ann@catkingardens.ca.

Horticultural Therapy Certificate_2023-24.pdf