Off the Couch and Onto the Treadmill

Pug in Jogging Suit A Different Take on Therapy: Not everyone is keen on sitting face-to-face with a therapist for a traditional therapy session and it’s not always necessary or helpful to do that. Other types of therapy such as art therapy, sand tray therapy, or play therapy can be very effective; so can playing a card game or taking a walk during a session. The more relaxed people are in session, the more likely they are to feel comfortable opening up and talking about intimate concerns. Making headlines these days is another spin on traditional therapy sessions: exercising during therapy.

The Mind-Body Connection: Some therapists conduct therapy sessions by standing next to a client who is jogging or walking on a treadmill. Other therapists actually get up on a second treadmill and jog alongside a client. The reasoning behind this approach to therapy is not just the idea that exercise reduces depressive symptoms, but also the belief that clients who see the weekly physical and mental benefits of exercise will be motivated to make changes in other areas of their lives. Research has shown that the brain changes that occur during exercise have positive effects on emotions.

How It Works: As Adam Cox writes in this month�s Psychotherapy Networker magazine (�Lost in Electronica�), even throwing a softball back and forth has a positive effect in therapy. The resulting increase in heart rate appears to intensify thinking and communication, which in turn helps the conversation stay in the client�s memory. Cox also points out that physical activity reduces feelings of vulnerability. The safer clients feel in therapy, the more they are able to participate and get something out of it.

ASC on Deaf Clients Exercising in Therapy: Some skeptics have cautioned about the slippery slope of the therapist-client relationship when therapy moves away from the traditional sit-and-talk format. As long as therapists take care to maintain appropriate boundaries during exercise sessions and clients feel they are benefitting, this type of therapy makes sense to us. We are often in favor of creative and alternative approaches to therapy. Obviously, exercising is not going to work if a Deaf client wants to hop onto a Nordic machine that involves coordinating one�s arms and legs though. Walking or cycling on a stationery bike would be better options for Deaf people.

Thinking about what exercises would/wouldn�t work for Deaf clients in therapy makes us think about this semi-related topic�some hearing people think Deaf people are lucky that we can chat and eat at the same time. Our hearing neighbor once came to one of our parties and afterwards commented, half-jokingly, that she thought Deaf people eat more because we can �talk� with our mouths full. Guess it works the other way around, that hearing people might be lucky they can throw softballs back and forth nonstop, during a therapy session, while continuing to talk with their hands full.

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