Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Cooking Cure

Move over, talk therapy.

You are being replaced by cooking therapy, even baking therapy.

As might be expected Jeanne Whalen’s report on the latest from the mental health field scrupulously avoids gender-typing those who are overcoming their mental illness by cooking. One suspects that it works as well with men and with women.

Still, the message young women have been receiving for many years now is that cooking dinner for your family is demeaning. Many young women frankly refuse to do it. 

Does this mean that they are becoming depressed and anxious because they cannot make dinner or bake cookies? Is this the only way to talk liberated women back into the kitchen? One awaits the feminist attack on the cooking cure.

Whalen explains it all:

Psychologists say cooking and baking are pursuits that fit a type of therapy known as behavioral activation. The goal is to alleviate depression by boosting positive activity, increasing goal-oriented behavior and curbing procrastination and passivity.

“If the activity is defined as personally rewarding or giving a sense of accomplishment or pleasure, or even seeing the pleasure of that pumpkin bread with chocolate chips making someone else happy, then it could improve a sense of well-being,” says Jacqueline Gollan, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

True enough, some clinics still include bouts of talk therapy, but one suspects that the cooking cure also helps to overcome the effects of talk therapy.

One patient told Whalen:

“Talking therapy was really going in-depth with why we are here,” he said. Being in the kitchen “wasn’t all focused on why we’re here, but on getting better and boosting confidence and self-esteem and skills.”

Lest we forget, eating a meal—the activity that normally follows cooking—very often involves other people. It is a communal ritual, one that connects people in ways that talking to walls does not.

Whalen continues:

If possible, sharing the cooking and eating process with others can be extra helpful, therapists say. Some people with mental illness feel socially isolated, so having an excuse to be in the kitchen or around a table with others can boost social skills and confidence, says Helen Tafoya, clinical manager of a psychosocial rehabilitation program at the University of New Mexico Psychiatric Center in Albuquerque. 

There you have it. In its search for new treatments therapy has, as they say, reinvented the wheel.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

Making bread, kneading the dough can be therapeutic. I know; as a bread-making man, I have kneads.