Spokane clinician’s idea blooms into therapy for young LCSNW clients

by | Jul 21, 2023 | Behavioral Health, Child Welfare, Staff Spotlight

One small seedling blossomed into more than 75 plant starts in an unusual place – an LCSNW counseling office in Spokane. Clinician Ryan Marsh had the idea to offer his young clients the chance to start a plant and follow its growth. The project has brought a world of therapeutic benefits that both kids and adults enjoy.

While he was a student at Whitworth University, he built the plant stand as a volunteer gesture for LCSNW. After Ryan was hired by LCSNW 2 ½ years ago for the SAFeT clinical team, and after the colorful plant stand had sat in storage for awhile, he convinced clinic administration to risk the occasional “dirt accident” and set up a planting station in the clinic lobby.

One child in particular was an early success. He had a tiny plant start that wasn’t doing well, but once Ryan and the boy moved it to a sunny spot and gave it regular care, it bloomed into a healthy 8-inch marigold plant. Ryan’s philosophy in his clinical practice: “If a plant is struggling, we don’t blame the plant, we change the environment so that it can thrive.”

The project became popular with both children and adults and at one time they had 75 plant starts at the planting station. There are many therapeutic applications, such as mindfulness and self care. 

While Ryan and his wife do have a garden at home, the planting project got its start from Ryan’s love of the outdoors and his prior experience with troubled kids. “So many kids I see have little real exposure to the outdoors – walking by the river, observing animals or watching things grow. I want all kids to grow up with those experiences.”