Therapeutic Nature Activities: A Step Toward the Labor Market for Traumatized Refugees

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Oct 16;17(20):7542. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17207542.


Background: Globally, the number of refugees is growing. For many refugees, entering the labor market in their new country of residence is challenging. Some remain forever dependent on welfare services, and this not only weakens their chances of integration, but also harms their health and well-being.

Methods: This qualitative single case study focused on a group of war-stricken refugees in Denmark. The study investigated the impact of an eight-month horticultural vocational program aimed at improving their ability to complete an education program or to work. A total of 29 interviews were conducted and analyzed using the interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) method.

Results: The natural environment in the eco-village evoked a feeling of safety as well as positive memories in the participants, in contrast to the traumatic memories they had of their flight. Horticultural activities and the positive and respectful attitude from staff initiated a recovery process. New skills were achieved at an individual pace, and feelings of isolation decreased. These findings can be implicated in future interventions.

Keywords: horticultural activities; labor market; migrants; recovery; refugees; vocational program.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Horticultural Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Refugees*
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Social Welfare