My goal for the past year as a recreational therapist at Stamford Hospital has been to create a program to incorporate the holistic approach into the medical field. I am thrilled to say that this has been quite a success throughout the past year and a half that I have worked here. I believe that the mind-body-spirit connection has the ability to heal anyone no matter what they may be experiencing. In the medical field where many drastic changes are occurring in people’s lives, this is definitely needed.
I am excited to say that I have been asked to hold an experiential presentation at the upcoming international Planetree Conference. In this presentation, I will be sharing some of the interventions and treatments I do at the hospital and how the holistic approach has been effective in the healing process of patients in the physical rehabilitation unit, the psychiatry unit and inpatient. For the presentation, I am planning to incorporate mindfulness, relaxation therapy and art therapy into the experiential presentation. This past week I held a group in the psychiatric unit that combines all three components and I decided to write a blog post on this fascinating experience.
The group began with guided imagery that I read aloud. I guided the patients to create a visual of their safe place. This guided imagery consisted of visualizing a place using their senses. While I read the guided imagery script, we also had relaxation music playing in the back and had dimmed the lights to set a very calming mood for the patients. As I read the script, I observed the patients in the room. Some patients began to cry and others looked more relaxed than I have ever seen them before.
At the end of the script I told the patients that I was now going to give them a little piece of paper the size of a business card and on this piece of paper they could write one word that they would use to describe their safe place that they visualized and on the other side draw the image if they would like.
After the patients did this, I asked if anyone would like to share. To hear the patients’ experiences of what they consider their safe or happy places was such an incredible experience. One patient expressed that she visualized a beautiful field in park with her kids, at inner peace with herself and the world. Another patient stated that her “safe” place was her bed. No matter where these places are, it gave me a fulfilling feeling to know that these patients were able to visualize a place that made them feel safe or happy during this difficult time in their lives.
At the end of the group I reminded the patients that these places are always available to them through visualization even if they cannot physically be there. I told the patients that they will now have these cards to keep with them to stick in their pockets or place in their wallets to remind them of the way that they felt when they were in their safe place and a reminder that they can be grateful to have this place. I also reminded the patients it may not be where they are it may be who they are with.
This group was truly an incredible experience and I look forward to holding future groups combining relaxation therapy, mindfulness and art therapy. I also look forward to being able to hold an experiential presentation at the Planetree Conference to share how these holistic techniques can be extremely beneficial in the healing process.
When you can visualize with your imagination, you can easier create whatever you want to happen in your life. As for today, think of one place that you would consider your safe or happy place. Now take a moment to visualize it and take a couple deep breaths. Write down a word that associates the way that you feel in this place. You will experience at least one stressful moment today, when this happens, come back to this place or this word.