Cooking Therapy? What the heck is that?
Like other tangible therapies, (Art, Music, Equine) Cooking Therapy is an active, focused process using individualized recipes to address specific issues. Through guided cooking we’ll mirror or illuminate the behaviors and patterns we use in life; some to our advantage, others that hold us back. At the end of a session we’ll have more clarity about our relationships and ourselves, and oh yes, we might even have dinner or dessert!
Targeting an Issue
What kind of issue would you like to address today? Is it emotional, like feeling low, anxious or frustrated? Situational, like an empty nest or unmanageable workplace situation? Or perhaps a combination of both, such as a prolonged sense of dissatisfaction in a relationship?
In Cooking Therapy, we choose an individualized recipe to address your concerns and together perform a set of steps that are purposeful and targeted toward improving them. Even in the preparation stage, Cooking Therapy utilizes metaphor, mirroring, and focus to give you increased clarity about behaviors, affirmations that will stay with you, and ideas that may help you crystallize a plan.
Some significant benefits of this therapy include no travel outside your kitchen and no cost other than your grocery list. Also, this therapy session does double duty, because at sessions end, you will not only have food for thought but actual food.
Time to Cook
From gathering the ingredients to reading through the recipes, together we will actually cook and while doing so, explore how many of our actions in cooking mirror our learned patterns in life. Do you struggle with patience? Attention to detail? New ingredients? Perfection? So many of our behaviors become apparent when we cook, if you’re paying attention. As I’ve said, some serve us well while others hold us back. Identifying the difference can be a breakthrough experience.
In a Cooking Therapy session, The Sous Therapist will guide you through the tasks, ask questions and make suggestions so that you can more clearly reflect and begin to form answers that are right for you. As always, in Cooking Therapy, the session is less about the food and more about the act of cooking with a focus on mindfulness, authentic self-reflection, and your own decision-making about change.
Just as you need not be a great artist to benefit from Art Therapy, you need not be a great cook or even like cooking to benefit from Cooking Therapy. Remember, in this therapy session you won’t be sitting face to face and looking directly into someone’s eyes. Sometimes, while doing an activity that is outside that traditional dyad, different emotions and feelings emerge.
Review and Reflect
Our session finishes with an evaluation, a discussion about what was learned, and a plan. Was the end product a ‘traditional success’ and what does that mean to you? Need it look exactly like the photo or is the taste good enough? What key issues can be prioritized? What new ideas should be cemented? In other words, ‘What is the takeaway?’ Did you learn something about yourself, your partner, your child or parent? Were you able to identify behaviors that are helpful as well as those that you might want to discard? Which part of the procedures or cooking methods created some sort of realization or illumination for you?
No matter the issue, be assured that you will have a nurturing and self-fulfilling experience. Preparing your own meal is a nourishing and healing act; the ultimate in self-care. Though not religious, it can be a spiritual experience. You are putting your hands and your spirit into the process and receiving something in return. Even Buddha said, ‘when we prepare our own food we give to the food and the food gives back.’
While one cooking therapy session is never a substitute for traditional talk therapy, studies show that a concrete therapy session can have an impact in a new and different way that is very helpful, especially in terms of mastery (we could all use more of that!) and even fun. You remember fun, right?
Additionally, things learned in a concrete therapy session can be brought into a talk therapy session to be further addressed. If you’re ready to give it a try, LET’S COOK!