A lived experience research: exploring the meaning of therapeutic horticulture for anishinabek youth in a brief residential treatment unit
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If a social worker truly wishes to support Anishinabek peoples in healing, it is vital that their approach is guided from a personal place in line with a holistic worldview. As a healing practice, therapeutic horticulture by nature connects plant life and people together. Each supports the other in a symbiotic relationship to promote well-being for all. Therapeutic horticulture has many tenets that allow for connection with all life forms of this Universe. With the long history of oppression and inter-generational trauma of Anishinabek peoples, social work practices must critically reflect on the approaches and structural practices in place in an effort to assess their relevance with this population. This can only be done by working with the people. This qualitative exploratory research utilizes a hermeneutic phenomenology approach, employing photovoice and semi-directed interviews as the method of data collection. A hermeneutic approach is carried out in collaboration with the participants. As such, this study examined the meaning that Anishinabek youth ascribe to a therapeutic horticulture approach to healing. The main findings of this thesis share that the therapeutic horticulture approach to healing was meaningful for the youth. The following themes emerged as relevant experiences for the participants: Engaging the senses, humour, the social experience, cognitive experience, wonder, resiliency, skill building, and a sense of pride, interconnectedness, caretaking, memories, and the connection to the spirit world, culture and the enjoyment of the photovoice method. By drawing on the voice of the youth, this research offers guidance for future approaches to therapeutic horticulture healing practices as well as policy making in the social work profession. This research may also inform future research as to relevant and honorable research practices with Anishinabek populations.