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Research article2018Peer reviewed

Therapeutic interventions in a rehabilitation garden may induce temporary extrovert and/or introvert behavioural changes in patients, suffering from stress-related disorders

Adevi, Anna A.; Uvnas-Moberg, Kerstin; Grahn, Patrik


Patients being treated for stress-related mental illness were observed during two summer programs in order to investigate the influence of multimodal nature-based therapy in a specially designed healing garden on patient recovery. The aim was to distinguish specific qualities, patterns and/or processes during the participants' stay in the healing garden. The study is a single-case study, using participatory observation. The data were coded following an inductive research process. The results showed that patients who underwent psychotherapy were more open and contact-seeking, and carried out extrovert recreational walks. By contrast, patients who underwent physiotherapy were introverted, emotionally withdrawn and performed introvert recreational walks. Interpretation of the data suggested that treatment combined with activities in certain parts of the rehabilitation garden induced and supported different psycho-physiological processes. The mechanisms and progress of these are discussed from the theory of situated cognition, and how these processes are stimulated and supported by characteristics in the garden. Oxytocin, a hypothalamic peptide which stimulates social interaction, induces anti-stress effects and stimulates growth and healing, may hypothetically be involved in these processes.


Evidence based health design; Horticultural therapy; Nature based therapy; Common mental disorders; Situated cognition; Oxytocin

Published in

Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
2018, Volume: 30, pages: 182-193