心も一緒に育てる!植物に携わる資格「園芸療法士」

園芸療法士は、身体や心のリハビリや、癒しのために園芸療法を扱うことができる専門家です。園芸療法は、認知症の進行を遅らせたり、自然と通して情操教育を行うことで、非行などの反社会的な行動を抑制する効果があると言われています。

ガーデニングとは違い、苦しみを抱えている人の心や体の状態を良くするために、花や緑を扱うのが特徴です。

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植物を通して心を癒す園芸療法士の仕事

園芸療法士に求められる知識としては、植物に関する知識、医療や保健、福祉に関する知識などがあります。主婦や定年退職の人が、資格取得を目指すこともありますし、作業療法士や教諭、保育士やヘルバー、介護福祉士、造園業などの人が、キャリアアップのために学ぶこともあります。

花や植物や自然が好きな人、人の心を癒したい人、医療や福祉に興味がある人に向いています。人と一緒に過ごすのが好きで、心をくみ取る能力に長けている人や、体力や忍耐力がある人にも最適です。

普通のガーデニングでも、園芸をしていることにはなりますが、ガーデニングを行う目的はあくまで自分のためです。それに対して、園芸療法は自己満足ではなく、悩みを抱えている人に関わって、園芸を通じて、一緒に心を解きほぐしていくのが異なります。

植物が好きで、それを人の癒しのために使ってみたい、植物の素晴らしい能力を、周りにもっと知ってほしいというような人に最適な仕事です。

園芸療法士は、国家資格ではないので、資格を取得しても行政からの支援は得られません。

しかし、最近では、高齢化やストレス過多の社会事情のために、園芸療法のニーズは高まっています。病院などで、活躍している人もいます。

園芸療法士の活動に役立つ資格とは

園芸療法士は、園芸(ガーデニング)の作業を通して、心身に障害を持つ人や、精神の不安や緊張を持つ人を癒して、生活の質(QOL)を向上させる役割を担うことができます。

試験はなく、全国大学実務教育協会が認定している大学や短大の所定課程を履修すると、授与されます。具体的な流れとしては、高校卒業後に、全国実務教育協会に入会して、大学と短大の所定の課程を修了すれば資格取得が可能です。

資格取得のためには、園芸論、園芸療法論、園芸療法実習、ガーデニングの必修科目4科目8単位のほかに、選択科目8科目16単位以上の履修が必要です。

実習は、専用のイネーブルガーデン(可能性を広げる庭、園芸療法用のガーデン)で行い、プランニングから療法を行うまでの、一連の技術を身につけます。受講スタイルは、通学による受講と、通信による受講があり、通学の場合は所定の園芸療法学校に通い、学科と実習を受講してレポートを提出します。

通信による受講の場合は、学科はDVDで受講してレポートを提出し、実習は学校にスクーリングで受けるスタイルです。さらに上を目指すのであれば、日本園芸療法学会が認定する、認定登録園芸療法士、専門認定登録園芸療法士、高等認定登録園芸療法士、などの資格があります。

認定登録園芸療法士は、一定水準の知識と技術を習得した者、専門認定登録園芸療法は、認定登録園芸療法士を指導できる者、高等認定登録園芸療法士は、園芸療法士分野で博士論文指導ができる者、というレベルになっています。

どれも、日本園芸療法学会の会員であることが資格取得の前提条件です。

園芸療法で心身を生き生きさせる

植物に触れたり、花の香りをかぐと心が軽くなることがあります。園芸療法は、五感に作用する植物や園芸を活かすことで、心を元気にさせることができます。

種まきや水やりなどで植物を育てていると、自分の手で命を育てているという自尊心や、充実感が生まれますが、それは不安や劣等感を持っている人の心に、プラスに働きかけるものです。

他にも「もうすぐ芽が出るかもしれない」などの期待や、「咲いた」という達成感や満足感が得られると、園芸は様々な部分でプラスに働いてくれます。園芸作業の主役は植物ですが、園芸療法では育てている本人が主役です。

植物を上手に育てることが重要なのではなく、育てる過程で、心身の機能を回復したり、リハビリやレクリエーションとして役立てるのが狙いです。園芸療法士が行うのは、育て方のコツを教えて指導をするだけではありません。

それも、充足感を得やすくするためにはプラスになりますが、育てている本人を見守って、本人が緑に癒されて変化していくのをサポートしていくことが重要です。

芽が出たら「芽が出たね」と一緒に喜んであげたり、成長に一喜一憂するなどして、コミュニケーション能力を育てていくこともできます。

心を頑なに閉ざしている人でも、園芸のことで共通の話題ができると、心を許して会話してくれる可能性も出てきます。特に、お年寄りは園芸好きな人が多いので、そういう人たちに対しては、身体の機能が衰えてからのリハビリ効果は高いでしょう。

園芸に興味を持ってもらうことで、公園や森林、フラワースポットなどに行きたいという意欲が出てくることもあります。

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