Prairie Post (East Edition)

SaskA­bil­i­ties in Swift Cur­rent has new pro­gram for en­hanc­ing men­tal health

- Therapy · Medicine · Braunschweig · Swift Current · St. Francis Xavier University · United Way

The workshop par­tic­i­pants are in­di­vid­u­als who have al­ready been re­ceiv­ing sup­port through SaskA­bil­i­ties pro­grams and some of them are also SaskA­bil­i­ties em­ploy­ees. The drop-in for­mat of the workshop ses­sions means the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants will vary from week to week.

“The nice thing about the vir­tual is there can be as many as are avail­able,” she said. “They do have to let us know ahead of time so that we can pro­vide those ac­tiv­ity kits for them for the art ther­apy com­po­nent.”

Swift Cur­rent based Brunswick Creek Psy­chol­ogy Ser­vices was re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing the for­mat and con­tent of th­ese in­ter­ac­tive vir­tual work­shops, which started in De­cem­ber and will con­tinue un­til the end of March.

Dr. Conor Barker is the clin­i­cal di­rec­tor and founder of Brunswick Creek Psy­chol­ogy Ser­vices. He is a prac­tic­ing psy­chol­o­gist and also as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor in in­clu­sive ed­u­ca­tion at St. Fran­cis Xavier Uni­ver­sity.

Mem­bers of his team of psy­chol­o­gists are de­liv­er­ing the pro­gram dur­ing the on­line workshop ses­sions, which take place twice a week.

“We do a com­bi­na­tion of psy­choe­d­u­ca­tion, some group talk and ac­tiv­ity games with the goal be­ing sup­port­ing in­di­vid­ual men­tal health, build­ing some cop­ing skills, but also build­ing some reg­u­lar con­nec­tion be­tween the par­tic­i­pants, who typ­i­cally would be able to get to­gether in group ac­tiv­i­ties, but now can­not,” he said.

The themes dur­ing th­ese workshop ses­sions in­clude self-care, change your at­ti­tude with grat­i­tude, iden­ti­fy­ing and la­bel­ing emo­tions, iden­ti­fy­ing pur­pose of emo­tions, per­sonal iden­tity, self-love, and self-sooth­ing. Art ther­apy is used as part of the for­mat and there are dif­fer­ent art projects each week.

The art ther­apy is used to as­sist par­tic­i­pants with the ex­pres­sion of their feel­ings and thoughts.

“Some­times it’s re­ally help­ful to be do­ing some­thing with your hands when you’re hav­ing dif­fi­culty par­tic­u­larly in ex­press­ing an idea or ex­press­ing your un­der­stand­ing of a cer­tain con­cept that you’re go­ing through, and be­ing able to ex­press that in a dif­fer­ent way through an artis­tic means,” he ex­plained.

He noted that the use of art ther­apy has changed since the work­shops ini­tially started in De­cem­ber.

“What’s in­ter­est­ing is the art was an ice­breaker, but now we’re see­ing more the par­tic­i­pants just want­ing to talk, be­cause they’ve moved past need­ing some­thing with their hands to fid­dle with,” he said. “They want to ac­tu­ally en­gage with the top­ics more than the art project and that’s to­tally fine, and that’s an ac­tual pos­i­tive out­come, par­tic­u­larly when you’re work­ing with in­di­vid­u­als who may have dif­fi­culty ex­press­ing them­selves.”

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Barker the work­shops have be­come an ac­tiv­ity that par­tic­i­pants are look­ing for­ward to.

“It’s a nice break in the week,” he said. “We’ve also been able to help process emo­tions and thoughts in ses­sion as we talk about the dif­fer­ent themes that come up within the ses­sions. I think the big­gest goal of this is just in­creas­ing hu­man con­nec­tion. We’re in a re­ally dif­fi­cult time with COVID-19 and peo­ple are feel­ing iso­lated and even though the light is at the end of the tun­nel we still don’t know how far yet we have to go, and so hav­ing th­ese types of things can help us get through this time to­gether.”

Watson has also re­ceived pos­i­tive feed­back from workshop par­tic­i­pants about the ben­e­fits of th­ese ses­sions.

“They’ve shared that they have en­joyed learn­ing more about them­selves and how they ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions,” she said. “They’ve also stated that they have found it fun. They’ve en­joyed the in­ter­ac­tive ses­sions, the group dis­cus­sions and learn­ing more about them­selves and the cop­ing skills that they’re learn­ing as well that they’re able to im­ple­ment in their day to day.”

Th­ese workshop ses­sions will come to an end, but the pro­gram has been de­signed to pro­vide par­tic­i­pants with in­for­ma­tion that they can still con­tinue to use af­ter­wards.

“As we de­sign any sort of psy­cho­log­i­cal pro­gram, the goal of the pro­gram is never to main­tain it per­ma­nently,” Dr. Barker said. “The goal al­ways is to pro­vide the in­di­vid­u­als the skills they need for the chal­lenges they’re fac­ing in the mo­ment and hope­fully that they can gen­er­al­ize those skills to new op­por­tu­ni­ties down the line. … While this pro­gram will come to an end, other pro­grams will come up to meet the needs and we cer­tainly look for­ward to work­ing with the United Way and with SaskA­bil­i­ties as the needs shift and change. I think short-term pro­grams re­ally have that ben­e­fit to let you de­velop that one thing, you do that well and then you see what’s the need now, be­cause that need should have shifted and changed as a re­sult of our pro­gram.”

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada