tel-hai east campus

The therapeutic impact of terrarium building


Creative Integrative Collaboration at the College: Meeting between College Leadership, Students and Researchers in Social and Environmental Sciences

Research by Dr. Tami Gavron and Dr. Hagai Shemesh


Art therapy processes are based on using materials and diverse creative processes, which impact and change the emotional experience of the person creating. Natural materials constitute part of the materials used in art therapy. In recent years the art therapy profession, as well as the art world itself, has expanded to work in natural spaces with materials from nature. A plant terrarium is a small glass container within which a complete ecosystem including a plant growth substrate, tiny plants and a microbial community. This method makes it possible to create a miniature natural system that changes over time.

Our research connects two elements: Building an ecological terrarium and creating a miniature creative world inside a container, which is connected to therapeutic intervention in the profession of art therapy. Building a terrarium can connect the experience of physical contact with nature and its impact on the learning and work environment. Building a creative terrarium can be a way to tell an internal story, to express wishes and to create a positive sense through building a unique personal world.

The research conducted at the College is experimental and groundbreaking, since the impact on people of the terrarium building process has not yet been examined. The research is built on an integrated process (quantitative and qualitative) that examines the impact of creation of a personal plant terrarium on the participants, and in addition examines the impact of the terrarium treatment over time. Initially, we examined the impact of the terrarium on students’ experiences at the College, and later, after we saw that the experience was also meaningful for us as terrarium creators, and with the support of Avishai Lev from the Research Authority, we decided to examine the impact of building a terrarium on members of the faculty leadership of the College. In this way, we thought that we could support the research and simultaneously share this enjoyable experience with members of the faculty and provide them the opportunity to participate in unique research taking place at the College.

The research began out of a desire for collaboration between two researchers from different College faculties: Dr. Tami Gavron, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art Therapy, researches the emotional significance of creative processes in therapy with diverse populations and Dr. Hagai Shemesh, Chair of the Environmental Science Department, whose expertise and research is in plant ecology. With participation of faculty leadership from diverse departments and students from the different faculties, it seems that the research is creating integration among diverse fields and different populations, all connected with fields of study at the College.

  terrarium  On Tu B’Shvat, we met with the faculty leadership for two sessions of terrarium building. Participants had a moving experience working with plants and natural materials, and each individually creating their own unique miniature world. The atmosphere was playful and warm and the personal greenhouses created were spectacular. The workshop also contributed to deeper personal acquaintance among the participants and strengthening connections between them.

The experience of collaboration between researchers and faculty enables creation of deep common knowledge, which is meaningful and promotes the field of research at the College.

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