"This innovative method utilizes the raw and direct nature of food and cooking to reach out to patients and build a strong therapeutic relationship"
In the last few decades leading researchers in the field of mental health have accentuated the essential link between nourishment and emotional well-being, a link that emerges from the primal relations between mothers and their newborns.
This fundamental need for nourishment exceeds beyond a physiological need and is the basic pattern that moulds our ability to create and maintain relationships with others.
Dr. Ayelet Barak-Nahum translated this theoretical concept into an innovative set of practical tools and therapeutic techniques.
Culinary Art Therapy combines psychological theories, occupational therapy insights, nutrition, senso-motoric therapy cooking techniques and culinary traditions into a systematic method. Cooking together with patients thus becomes a platform and set of tools with which to work on different kinds of emotional issues and life challenges.
This innovative method utilizes the raw and direct nature of food and cooking to reach out to patients and build a strong therapeutic relationship. Cooking together in a designated therapeutic kitchen and the conversation accompanying the cooking process enables patients to clarify their choices and reactions. What one chooses to cook and how, what is one's reaction to success or frustration, what significance is given to the final product, with whom does one share it, what is the nature and quality of the relationship one creates with the therapist and more. This process exposes patients’ distress, problematic patterns, hunger, deprivations and unfulfilled needs. As a result, an infrastructure of awareness, conversation and nourishing experience develops pathways for change and well-being.
In the last decade Culinary Art Therapy has been applied in Israeli health care systems, welfare organizations, educational institutions and private clinics with diverse populations and varied needs.
A certificate training program for Culinary Art Therapists is offered at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Graduates use Culinary Art Therapy with cancer patients, diabetes patients, at special educations schools, with youth, with people who suffer from mental illness, with post-traumatic stress disorder patients, with people who are overweight, with elderly people in geriatric hospitals and more.