Bonsai as a therapy tool

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Bonsai CarollHermannCaroll Hermann has successfully completed her doctoral study on the topic: “Integral eco-psychological investigation of Bonsai principles, meaning and healing”.

Hermann is a mature student who started her academic career at the University of Zululand in 2005. It was always my dream to return and teach at my alma mater,” she said.

In 2011, she was afforded the opportunity and started in the Department of Psychology as a lecturer. She immediately started thinking of a topic for her DPhil degree. “I have always been passionate about bonsai as a hobby and am deeply aware of the relaxing benefits. I started researching the topic and realised that although all bonsai artists talk about how much it relaxes them and how good it was for their psyche, no research had been done on it before.”

Hermann started doing research in the bonsai community and have now formalised her work with research. Bonsai therapy, she said, is much the same as animal assisted therapy or art therapy and the evidence for the benefits in those are numerous. She intends to use bonsai to reach communities, not only as relaxation, but as rehabilitation tool too.

She said the art therapy can be used in very many different settings, from old age homes, rehab centres, correctional institutions and places of safety. It is something that can be used by the client that is relatively cheap and easy to come by. One does not have to have any specific skill or be trained. She has registered a project at the University about using bonsai as therapy tool with juvenile offenders and she is just awaiting ethical approval from Research Ethics Committee.

Two articles on this work are currently in review. In 2014, she attended an international conference in Osaka, Japan and delivered a paper on “Bonsai as a therapy tool”.

Mack Makhathini