Programs that offer a form of therapy which encourages individuals to achieve self-expression and emotional release by communicating their emotions and conflicts graphically through painting, drawing, sculpting and other art forms. Art therapy is based on the premise that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behaviour, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness and achieve insight. It is used both as a diagnostic tool and a treatment technique for people of all ages who have anxiety, depression and other mental and emotional problems and disorders; social and emotional difficulties related to disability and illness; trauma and loss; physical, cognitive and neurological problems; and psychosocial difficulties related to medical illness.
Programs that provide special stuffed animals, blankets, books, toys, get well cards, small gifts or other items for adults and/or children who are experiencing a traumatic situation to help them regain a sense of comfort and security.
Programs that help individuals (e.g., paramedics, police officers, disaster workers) who have been involved in emergency operations under conditions of extreme stress or people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as workplace or school violence recover from the traumatizing effects of the experience utilizing a therapeutic technique which enables them to process the event and put it behind them. A CISD enables workers and others to discuss what happened, their role in the event, the impact of the experience and skills for coping with the after effects. A CISD will generally alleviate the acute stress responses which sometimes appear at the scene or immediately thereafter and will at least inhibit delayed stress reactions which can appear days, weeks or even months later.
Programs that provide opportunities for individuals with any of a wide range of disabilities and others (e.g., victims of assault or abuse, people who have recently suffered a tragic loss, incarcerated offenders, at risk youth) to relate to, handle, groom and ride horses as a part of an experiential habilitation or therapy program in which the horse serves as a co-facilitator or co-therapist. Equestrian therapy provides an experience with horses that fosters growth, communication skills, self-esteem, self-awareness, healing and personal transformation. Clients learn about themselves and others by participating in activities with the horses, and then discussing feelings, behaviours and patterns. Therapy goals for different populations may differ, e.g., treatment for children with autism may focus on behaviour modification and improvement.
Programs that help individuals recover from a traumatic event such as combat experiences, rape, molestation, catastrophic loss or natural disaster through a procedure which uses physical movement in combination with other therapeutic techniques. The process is based on the hypothesis that traumatization causes an overexcitement of a specific locus of the brain producing a neural pathology that "freezes" the information in its original anxiety-producing form. EMDR permits the "frozen" information to be desensitized, reprocessed and adaptively integrated resulting in diffusion of the traumatic imagery and a reduction of negative client symptoms, e.g., emotional distress, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and nightmares.
Programs that offer a form of therapy which uses music and music-related activities to address the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals with mental, physical or developmental disabilities, substance abuse disorders, chronic health conditions or other problems. Music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses; and design music sessions for individuals and groups based on client needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance and learning through music. Music can thus be used as a passive agent as in the case of listening to music to aid in reminiscence, reality orientation or relaxation; or as an active creative process in which the individual participates in musical production. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients' abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words.
Programs that help veterans with PTSD, inmates serving a sentence in prison, emotionally disturbed individuals or people who are isolated improve their personal and social functioning by giving them an opportunity to take responsibility for and/or relate to a domestic animal. In some cases, the animals may be selected due to comparable histories of trauma. Also included are programs that bring dogs or other small pets to visit people residing in a nursing facility or another institutional setting who are ill or elderly or have disabilities; and those that employ Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) who volunteer with their owner/handler as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children. A similar program offers children the opportunity to learn to read by reading to one of its therapy horses.
Programs that utilize play as a form of catharsis to enable children to express feelings and emotions which, if allowed to build up, could cause or further maladjustment. Play therapy is also used as a tool for diagnosing the source of a child's difficulty.
Programs that help individuals with mental, physical or developmental disabilities, substance abuse disorders, chronic health conditions or other problems develop new interests, sharpen their social skills and gain a sense of self-achievement through a structured series of leisure-time activities which may include arts and crafts, dance, drama, music, sports, games, social gatherings and community outings. Therapy goals may differ for different populations, e.g., improved hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills may be desired outcomes for people with physical disabilities.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.