BODY & SOUL: Creative Therapies
by Jayne Hobbs
Develop natural coping mechanisms
Stress is a normal response to life’s demands, and it’s not limited to specific ages. Although a small amount of stress can, in fact, motivate us, constant pressure can push us beyond our natural means of coping – physically and psychologically. The American Psychological Association (APA) reports that 75 to 90 per cent of physician visits are for stress-related ailments.
It’s important that we find a way to release stress from our daily life. Natural creative pursuits, like art, music and pet therapy are proven to be effective.
Any pet owner will tout the benefits and therapeutic joy that they experience with their pets – even Cleopatra found solace in her snake. The Dog’s Guide to Your Happiness: Seven Secrets for a Better Life from a Man’s Best Friend by Gary McDaniel, talks about what we can learn from our pets, as it relates to loyalty, playfulness and unconditional love. Playing with, and petting, pets can help to relieve stress.
Animal therapy is used to treat PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), behavioural problems, anxiety, depression, loneliness and isolation. Medical patients often experience a speedier recovery from serious health issues when in contact with a pet (mayoclinic.org). Freud often kept his pet dog present when he treated his patients, as he noticed that they became more relaxed.
The Pet Therapy Program has been so successful at CAMH (The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health), they are looking to increase the number of therapy dogs with the help of grants from PetSmart Charities of Canada.
Often held in professional settings, art therapy encourages self-discovery and emotional growth by using a dual process of creating art, which includes painting, writing, sculpting, etc., combined with interpreting its meaning. (medical-dictionary.com, arttherapy.org)
As a natural, therapeutic way to relieve stress, people of all ages are enrolling in recreational art programs. The Art Gallery of Ontario, the Gardner Museum and adult learning programs offer a variety of classes.
We all know that self-expression and listening to music within our own environment are wonderful ways to relax, but in this fast-paced, technological world, we have to take conscious steps to slow down – and to heal.
To purposely use music within therapeutic relationships helps to support health, development, and physical and emotional well-being. Music Therapy is an accredited profession, and it can benefit people of all ages living with such issues as emotional trauma, substance abuse and visual impairments, as well as mental and developmental disabilities.
Music can also be used on a daily basis as a natural, therapeutic means to relieve stress and to help with physical, emotional and psychological healing. Some drop-in centres in Toronto, such as the one at St. James Cathedral, include a version of music therapy, where guests listen to a variety of musical renditions on the piano, and often gather around for a sing-a-long.
Canadian music composer and pianist, Anne Sophie Roy, not only donates her time at St. James, but is the creator and founder of Motion Reflexion, providing motion reflexion and music healing sessions at Gilda’s Cancer Support Centre. An innovative exercise program, Motion Reflexion promotes relaxation by way of soft, creative exercise routines that don’t require previous training or excessive effort, and are based on fundamental music principles.