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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

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

Poulsen, Dorthe Varning; Pálsdóttir, Anna María; Christensen, Sasja Iza; Wilson, Lotta; Wiingaard Uldall, Sigurd


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.


refugees; migrants; horticultural activities; recovery; vocational program; labor market

Published in

International journal of environmental research and public health
2020, volume: 17, number: 20, article number: 7542

Authors' information

Poulsen, Dorthe Varning
University of Copenhagen
Pálsdóttir, Anna María (Palsdottir, Anna Maria)
Christensen, Sasja Iza
Hallingelille Økosamfund
Wilson, Lotta
Hallingelille Økosamfund
Wiingaard Uldall, Sigurd
Mental Health Centre Ballerup

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG3 Good health and wellbeing
SDG4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
SDG8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

UKÄ Subject classification

Occupational Therapy

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