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Farm Work May Improve Veterans’ Mental Health

Care farming—using working farms and agricultural landscapes to promote mental and physical health—helped improve veterans’ well-being in a recent study.

Monday, July 10, 2017 10:59 am EDT
"Farming acts as a kind of loose group therapy—the veterans are working with people who have had similar experiences that only those who have served in combat truly understand"

Care farming—using working farms and agricultural landscapes to promote mental and physical health—helped improve veterans’ well-being in a recent study.

With care farming, individuals participate in various horticultural activities and learn useful skills within a safe community and a green environment, a setting shown to improve mental and social well-being.

In the study of 5 veterans of foreign wars (4 men, 1 woman), care farming improved life satisfaction in 3 participants and optimism about future life satisfaction in 2 of the participants. Also, perceived loneliness decreased in 2 participants.

The findings support the use of care farming as a treatment for languishing veterans and for helping individuals with mental struggles.

“Farming acts as a kind of loose group therapy—the veterans are working with people who have had similar experiences that only those who have served in combat truly understand,” said Dr. Arie Greenleaf, co-author of the Journal of Humanistic Counseling study. “The farm provides a space they need to heal, a space where they can grow life rather than destroy it—not a small factor for many veterans trying to come to grips with the death and misery they witnessed in war, at times inflicted by their own hands.”

Additional Information

Link to Study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/johc.12046/full

About Journal

The Journal of Humanistic Counseling (JHC) is the official journal of the Association for Humanistic Counseling (AHC), a division of the American Counseling Association.  The Journal of Humanistic Counseling (JHC) explores humanistic counseling and development and research and critical reviews emphasize innovative programs and practices to promote tolerance, nurture diversity, and uphold human rights.

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