Interaction with the Plant World as a Source of Positive Human Functioning



The present review examines the restorative potential of interaction with flora for the physical and mental health of a person and their psychological well-being. The plant world is a particular part of nature, characterized by responsiveness, aesthetic appeal, and unobtrusiveness. These features make plants an effective means of restoring cognitive abilities, emotional state, as well as developing personal and behavioral effectiveness. At the same time, it is noted that, due to the phenomenon of plant blindness, their recovery resource is not used enough. The types of eco-therapy are analyzed; theories explaining the mechanisms of plants’ influence on the people’s psyche (biophilia hypothesis, attention restoration theory, stress recovery/reduction theory, and phyto-resonance) are presented. We review the results of studies proving the beneficial effect of interactions with the plant world (gardening, walking in the forest and park, simulation of the natural environment) on physical health and recovery from somatic diseases, on attention, creativity, behavior, and social functioning of a person. The effectiveness of interaction with flora is also noteworthy in the case of working with particular groups of people (adolescents from risk groups, offenders, and psychiatric patients). We analyze the limitations of studies, mainly related to their design.

General Information

Keywords: plants, psychological well-being, recovery, eco-therapy, garden therapy

Journal rubric: Research Reviews

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The study was conducted with the financial support of Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) (projects number 19-113-50118 and 19-013-00216).

For citation: Nartova-Bochaver S.K., Mukhortova E.A., Irkhin B.D. Interaction with the Plant World as a Source of Positive Human Functioning. Konsul'tativnaya psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya = Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy, 2020. Vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 151–169. DOI: 10.17759/cpp.2020280209. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Sofya K. Nartova-Bochaver, Doctor of Psychology, Professor, Head of the Laboratory for the Psychology of Salutogenic Environment, Department of Psychology, HSE University, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Elena A. Mukhortova, Senior Lecturer, Department of Pedagogical Psychology n.a. Professor V.A. Guruzhapov, Faculty of Psychology of Education, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Boris D. Irkhin, Master, PhD Student, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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