Growing a small world: College students’ perceptions of making and tending an expressive terrarium

Tami Gavron, Naama Livne, Dafna Regev, Hagai Shemesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Expressive terrariums are a recent intervention in the field of ecological art therapy, which combines nature-based horticultural therapy with arts-based activities. An expressive terrarium consists of a plant terrarium in a glass bowl that contains living plants and objects that form a personal artistic-creative whole. The aim of this preliminary qualitative study was to explore the meanings and effects of making and tending an expressive terrarium, as well as its potential as an intervention tool in creative arts therapies. Twenty-three college students were asked to describe their experiences. The findings yielded three themes: (1) their perceptions of the terrarium building workshop, (2) their experiences and feelings while making the terrarium and when (3) tending the terrarium over time. The building phase was shown to facilitate an experience of flow, emotional expression, transformation and elicitation of cognitive skills. The tending phase was perceived as building a relationship with the growing and changing terrarium. The terrarium itself was seen as promoting self-observation. Making and tending the terrarium allowed the participants to engage in developmental tasks and experiences related to young adulthood. These facets of the participants’ experiences thus support the use of the expressive terrarium in therapeutic settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102038
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Art therapy
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Expressive terrarium
  • Nature-based therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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