Kickstart a self-discovery journey by exploring these unique experiences that are good for your mental health too.
Alternatives to talk therapy are on the rise as people seek new and creative ways to work on themselves.
Toronto is a hotbed for the arts and innovation, so it’s unsurprising the city is home to unique outlets for reflection, resetting and self-improvement.
Whether you’re looking for a solo or group experience, there’s no better time to take that first step. Here are five creative workshops for self-discovery in Toronto.
Art therapy at artandmind
Art therapy is a form of treatment that lets people explore their thoughts and feelings with a therapist without relying solely on words, whether that’s through drawing, painting or even sculpture and collage.
Psychotherapist, art therapist and educator Eva-Marie Stern has extensive experience helping people explore trauma and other concerns.
“Art in therapy isn’t about making nice pictures, it’s about making marks… I won’t analyze you or your artwork” she explains.
Stern uses art to help people express themselves in a way that feels safe. Client and therapist can make connections between past and present, creatively exploring relationships and experiences in their life.
Neighbourhood: just north of Downtown Yonge
Creative movement at Upward Spiral
Julia Aplin is a professional dance artist and movement teacher who created her private practice, Upward Spiral, to provide hands-on body work and movement lessons. She offers everything from private Mitzvah or Pilates sessions to Dance With Trees wilderness experiences.
She also offers solo and group sessions to help her clients recover from injuries, work on self-healing, or simply enjoy an unstructured form of movement that incorporates dance, meditation and time in nature.
Neighbourhood: various locations include a west-end park, your hotel room via Zoom, or a forested retreat outside the city during warmer months.
Improv at Second City Training Centre
Improv as an anxiety-management strategy? No joke. Improv (or improvisation) involves acting out unscripted games, exercises and scenes, rather than script-based performances like monologues and scenes from plays.
Downtown’s Second City Training Centre offers an impressive array of improv classes, including innovative ones specifically designed for people with social anxiety.
In their Improv for Anxiety 1 class, for example, the instructor leads the class through off-the-cuff exercises designed to help participants address their anxiety triggers in a safe and supportive environment.
The exercises and scenarios give participants skills they can apply spontaneously to daily life and its numerous vexing situations. Anxiety 2 and 3 classes then build on the skills participants have learned.
Neighbourhood: South Core
Creative writing at Firefly Creative Writing
Firefly Creative Writing’s team of writing coaches offers small and large group writing workshops and one-on-one coaching. These classes are designed for all skill levels, from beginners learning to put their ideas into words to seasoned writers honing their craft.
Workshops involve sharing and talking about writing. Some are organized into themes such as poetry, short fiction or even writing about death and loss, while others have the simple goal of helping people find their voice and confidence as writers.
For example, their Worlds of Words workshop offers teens 14 to 17 years the opportunity to explore different forms of writing, including poetry, fan fiction, lists, rants, letters and memories.
Firefly also runs programming by and for BIPOC writers exploring themes around race and identity.
Neighbourhood: Eastside and other locations.
Music therapy at The Music Therapy Centre
We all know music can soothe the soul. Music therapy is an evidence-based therapy that uses listening to and/or creating music to help reduce stress, improve mood or foster self-expression.
Strike the right note at the Music Therapy Centre, which offers a range of programming, including those targeted at children and youth with disabilities, adults with physical disabilities and caregiver support groups.
If group work isn’t your thing, the centre also offers one-on-one music therapy sessions for an individualized approach.
The Centre also offers guided imagery and music, a form of psychotherapy in which participants listen to recorded music and explore the images that arise during the listening experience.