Greencare is an umbrella term which is now being used to cover both traditional social and horticultural therapy, and newer approaches such as animal-assisted therapy, ecotherapy, care farms, forest schools, shinrin yoku ( a.k.a. 'forest bathing" ) and the "green gym".   

There are many points of similarity, and there is much potential overlap in practice, between greencare and the PIE approach. After all, the "built environment" and the "grown environment" are not so far apart; and many projects incorporate elements of both. Homelessness hostels or skills development schemes may include a horticultural projects; and greencare projects will find themselves using many of the approaches and attitudes we identify in PIEs.

That is:

  • Both the greencare and the PIE approach attempt to use aspects of the physical environment to encourage and enhance a sense of belonging and well-being - and so to side step some of the difficulties in engaging emotionally that some community members otherwise face.  
  • Both the 'green' and the 'built' environment can create - or be used to create - what we have called 'social spaces' and opportunities to interact with others in new ways, and taken on new roles, however explicit and obvious or implicit and subtle those changes may be.  
  • Greencare is often particularly effective for those who do wish to make changes in their life, but still find a close personal relationship with any human very threatening; and there may therefore be some particular value in greencare for those in what we call the 'pre-contemplative' stage of personal growth.

(For some examples of the subtlety of spaces, and some useful vocabulary to identify such spaces, see the Boex twin's article on well-being through design, in the Library.)

In many cases, PIEs will use elements of the 'green' environment in PIEs as an add-on to an existing service, and so they are not always identified as greencare as such; and in the original accounts of a PIE, making use of the surrounding environment, as well as the immediate 'built' environment of the service was overlooked (See: "Is the PIE evolving?" for an account of this development in the thinking) .

For a useful presentation on the value of greencare - here used as part of a therapeutic community approach to working with personality disorder (as so many homelessness services in fact do) - see the video presentation to the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists, which gives both an introduction to the subject, and also to Rex Haigh  - a PIELink member, and co-author of the paper that first coined the term 'PIE'. (NB: this video currently unavailable).

For the evidence for greencare benefits, see: The evidence for environmental interventions : (Pending publication)


Examples in PIE practice

We will be populating this area with some examples of greencare in the next few weeks

Further viewing   

Greencare Research: a presentation by Jo Sempik & Rachel Bragg

'Research catalogue'; Care farming UK's listing of research on health impact and uptake of greencare.


Please note: the links below do not seem to be working, and may have been deleted on the sites where they appeared; we are attempting to rebuild/re-source them currently.

http://www.greenexercise.org/Green_Care.html: Exeter University Green exercise site

http://www.thrive.org.uk/  Address by Sir Richard Thompson of the UK Royal College of Physicians

http://tinyurl.com/greencaretalkGreencare" video presentation by Rex Haigh   (approx 30 minutes),

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