Friday, January 16, 2009

Humour and Laughter Therapy

In a medical article from Royal Marsden NHS Trust, London:

There is much anecdotal 'evidence' from nurses and patients to support humour and laughter as therapy. However, there is little research to support specific humour or laughter interventions as beneficial in the short or long term in the clinical environment. Humour and laughter remain potentially exciting and innovative tools for nursing therapy. They have a number of effects which could prove beneficial for many different nursing and medical diagnoses and appear to have the additional advantage of being adaptable to most situations. More clinical evaluation of humour and laughter therapy is required before its appropriate use can be defined.

Having said this a number of US hospitals are trying it and finding the results encouraging. Quoting

"At Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, cancer patients some with advanced stages of the illness are getting a boost through a therapy program called "Strength Through Laughter." It's among several types of humor therapy being offered by medical facilities around the country for patients diagnosed with cancer or other chronic diseases."

The next time you're seeking some alternative view of the world news that may just be beneficial to your health - why not check out Wonkie instead of surfing to your standard doom and gloom CNN or BBC type websites!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2009 - just returned from a lovely vacation to Sun City today and spending some time with the family after a much needed break. I spent quite a bit of time over the last few weeks thinking about how to take things forward with this blog. Mostly I wanted it to be a good reference without just being a dump list of various alternative therapies that are available.. there appear to be quite a few of those sites around!

I had the pleasure of meeting Anna Sempe from Uganda just before the Christmas break and she made me realise the need youngsters have for expression. Her disturbed 20-something blog is quite an interesting read, albeit disturbing at times! She also requested I cover some alternative therapies that weren't too 'way out' as she put it - just basic ones to help get in touch with yourself and enable expression in areas where it may be difficult or traumatic. I'll try to cover a few of these as we go on this year.

But for now - all the very best for 2009 and look forward to a great year ahead!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Music Therapy

Music therapy is a process in which a therapist uses music and all of its facets—mental, physical, aesthetic, emotional, social and spiritual—to help clients to improve or maintain their health status. In some cases, client's needs are addressed directly through music; in others they are addressed through the relationships that develop between the client and therapist. Music therapy is used with individuals of all ages and with a variety of conditions, including: medical health problems, mental problems, psychiatric disorders, physical handicaps, sensory impairments, developmental disabilities, communication disorders, substance abuse, interpersonal problems, and even aging. It is also used to: build self-esteem, improve learning, reduce stress, support physical exercise, and facilitate a number of other health-related activities.

Some frequently found practices of music therapy include its use for developmental work (communication, motor skills, etc.) particularly with individuals having special needs, Songwriting and listening in reminiscence/orientation work with the elderly, processing and relaxation work, and rhythmic Brainwave synchronization entrainment for physical rehabilitation in stroke victims.

More about this can be found on Wikipedia - Music Therapy Journals

Monday, December 1, 2008

Art therapy

Who should try this?

This is a therapy for everybody:
For worker and managers under much pressure and stress;
For people with inadequate work-life balance;
Mental health problems - especially ADD;
For children and young adults with severe learning difficulties;
For people with problems conforming to society, school, and authority; and
For people wanting to explore their inner creativity and depth through an artistic means of expression.

What is art therapy?

Usually at some point or other in life, people find themselves overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions. They find them difficult to face either by themselves or with others. Art therapy offers an opportunity to explore these intense or painful thoughts and feelings in a supportive environment. It involves using a wide variety of art & craft materials, e.g. paints, clay and batik, to create a visual representation of thought and feelings. Art Therapy can also be a very individual activity although it is most commonly practised in groups.

You can check out if you would like more detailed information.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Calming Visualisations for Children

This is an extract of an article from Coutts Woman written by Rupa Sudra - please go there if you'd like to read further on this subject:

"Kids are stressed because their parents are stressed. And sometimes, parents simply don’t have the skills to help their children."

The sessions are based on Louise Hay's book You can heal your life , which Usha found solace in after she was struck down and confined to her bed with chronic fatigue in 2000.

"After reading the book, I started to try the things that Hay talks about, like the positive affirmations, and yes, amazing things did begin to happen," explains Usha. Slowly, she began to feel better and returned to part-time teaching. She also started running adult workshops based on the Hay method.

"What I found was that a lot of the problems people face stem from their childhood and their belief system. I decided to go to the root cause, and adapted the work I was doing for adults, and wrote a similar programme for children." A year later the Healing Feeling workshop was born.
The workshop incorporates meditation, tai-chi, dance, massage, visualisation, positive affirmations and much more. Not exactly the usual things children are taught, but Usha is quick to defend her alternative methods. "Young children learn everything through imagination and play. But as they grow older, there is less time for play at school and at home.

"By discussing an imaginary journey with a child for example, will help them develop their language skills, help them learn and it connects the left and right sides of their brain," advises Usha. And her technique has seen results.

For example, Jack is eight. He appears to be confident, but when he's in a group he becomes shy and aloof. But after completing the workshop activities, on the final day, he confidently speaks in front of a group of adults and children about what he enjoyed the most, something his mum believes he wouldn't have done before.

"Children learn everything through imagination and play. But as they grow older, there is less time for play at school and at home. By discussing an imaginary journey with a child will help them develop their language and help them learn."

Another child, Mia, has a visible disability. She is often name-called by children at school. But here at the workshop, she feels safe and happily interacts with the other children. "Mia is an interesting example," explains Usha, "When she was visualising, she imagined she was surrounded by a bubble and all the names she was being called, simply bounced off the bubble.
"Through this technique, Mia learned that other people's problems are their own, and that she didn't have to listen to what they were saying to her."

Confidence is a big problem for many of the children, but Usha also deals with more severe cases. "I worked with one boy recently who was self-harming. He had been bullied so much that he had low self-esteem and that spiralled into him harming himself. "After 18 weeks of working him and his mum, he is a totally different child. We looked at bullying, why people bully, and also, we went through visualisations which made him feel more confident about himself. He can stand up for himself now," smiles Usha.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Healing visualisations

These are 2 examples of healing visualisations:

A. Getting closer - the Blended Colours Experience

Partners can do this together every morning when they get up, with the intention to bring closer their connection with each other. Each person should close their eyes and breathe in and out slowly three times. They should see the color coming out of their partners and see the color coming out of themselves. They should see the two colors blending, knowing that the two of them are becoming one. Exhale and open your eyes.

B. Breaking up - the Sands of Time experience

This special exercise is designed to help someone break the ties of a relationship to a specific person. It should be done twice — early morning and at twilight — twice a day for 7 days. It should take about 3 minutes per visualisation:

Close your eyes and exhale slowly three times.

See yourself walking along a beach holding hands with the one with whom you are ending the ties or relationship. Imagine the two of you dancing, skipping, and cavorting along the beach.
Then you drop hands, say good-bye, and retrace your steps backward toward the shoreline. As you do, thoroughly clean out everything that you see before you.

See and sense your effort.

Finally, when you reach the shoreline, the waves wash up on the beach, clearing away all the residue of the relationship that remains.

Picture yourself then swimming out to the horizon, using a regular overhand or crawl stroke, seeing your arms and legs becoming very long and your torso also elongating. Breathe in the pure air from the horizion.

Meet the horizon and come back to shore.. but using an alternative swimming stroke like a backstroke, with your arms stretched out far behind your head, your legs stretched out far in front of you - kicking. Again, your torso should be elongated in your visualisation. Keep breathing the pure air from the horizon.

When reaching the shore, come out and let the sun dry your skin. Then, put on a clean robe or gown that you find there, and return to your home.

Finally, open your eyes.