Practitioner Experiences Illustrate Benefits of HAI

November 6, 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created substantial challenges for both Green Chimneys and the University of Denver-based research team, the portfolio of research projects has proceeded with data that had been collected concurrently with content for the recently published “Documentation of Nature-Based Programs.” The result is several qualitative studies on the perceptions of Green Chimneys staff and practitioners in the integration and impact of nature-based activities on participating youth.

The first in this series of studies focused on describing the essence and nature of special education teachers’ lived experiences in incorporating nature-based interventions as a tool to improve youth social-emotional learning outcomes and promote positive youth development. “Human-Animal-Environment Interactions as a Context for Child and Adolescent Growth” indicates that almost universally, teaching staff perceive nature-based interventions to effect marked improvement in:

  • Prosocial behavior
  • Caregiving and nurturing
  • Connection to animals, plants and humans
  • Curiosity and excitement about learning

Recently published in “Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice” a second qualitative study asked farm staff to describe how they’ve seen youth be impacted by nature-based programs, particularly in shaping outcomes related to their development and well-being. Staff shared that youth interactions with plants, animals, and nature improved mood, strengthened relations, self-regulation, and self-conception.

The third study in the series, conducted with Green Chimneys clinicians, appears in “Journal of Child and Adolescent Social Work” and features clinical perspectives on how animal-assisted therapy impacts youth.  View all articles published to date