Farm work as treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder
School for Social Work
Post-traumatic stress disorder-Treatment, Agriculture-Therapeutic use, Psychotherapy, Farming, Agricultural work, PTSD, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Agriculture
This exploratory, descriptive study assessed what, if anything, is beneficial about engaging in agricultural work, or, farm work, for individuals living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An anonymous, online survey was utilized, asking a series of multiple choice and open ended questions about the participants’ farm work history, PTSD experience, and demographic information. Thirty-nine participants responded with varying identities and work history, but many shared experiences of PTSD. Almost all of the participants found farming to be beneficial for managing PTSD. Specifically, four themes arose from the data that explained what about farming was beneficial for individuals with PTSD: farming necessitates present-orientedness; having responsibility toward others, whether animals, individuals, or community; having the autonomy to create a safe environment, sometimes including solitude; and feeling connected with nature. Though these is much literature to support the benefits of horticulture generally for mental wellness, there is a dearth of literature that speaks to the relationship between farming and PTSD specifically. With an increased understanding of this complicated diagnosis, individuals, families, and communities will benefit from further research examining the benefits of farming for individuals with PTSD.
Walls, Mindy L., "Farm work as treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder" (2015). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.