This too, is therapy

At The Royal we recognize that recovery looks different for everyone, and a strengths-based, multidisciplinary approach to care helps us meet clients where they are. 

Many people don’t typically consider the therapeutic value of leisure activities such as painting, cooking, journaling, or wood refinishing, but research shows they can have a positive impact on well being and play an important role in the recovery journey. 

Here are a few of the different groups and programs we’ve highlighted this past year:  

Art Therapy

Recreation therapy is much more than sports and fitness, it can include meditation or a yoga class, and even exploring creative pursuits. The focus for the recreation therapist is their clients’ strengths, not their deficits, and using those strengths to support recovery.

Art instructor

Art group is really about igniting that spark in that person – the passion, the creativity – that makes them come alive,” says Lisa Murata, a nurse in the schizophrenia day program. Part of her job is to help clients find that spark and then fan the flames. The feeling of accomplishment and pride that comes from a job well done – that sense of “I can do this” – can spill over to other parts of peoples’ lives. 

Car wash

One of the longest-standing programs at the Brockville Mental Health Centre is the vocational car wash program. Research shows that employment is an essential part of the recovery process for people with mental illness. Work-related responsibilities may result in a reduction in symptoms and hospitalization and, in turn, give a boost of self-confidence, self-esteem, and an improved quality of life

Wood finishing

Ashleigh McGuinty, a recreation therapist at The Royal, noticed the gym benches were in rough shape. Her colleague, Jean-Michel Frechette, had always wanted to do something hands-on that would introduce clients to new skills… and an idea was born. They collected some basic equipment and started a new wood refinishing group.

Meal preparation

Dinner Club and Bakeology are just two of the groups that share the occupational therapy kitchen at The Royal. Cooking and baking build important skills for clients but they also provide a way for occupational therapists to assess cognitive abilities, functional skills, and see how people interact socially and work as a team. Read more about occupational therapy in the kitchen.


Journaling requires very little in the way of supplies, but the benefits can be significant. It’s a way to keep track, find perspective, and process our feelings. “When you get it down on paper it’s out of your head and you can free up brain space for other things,” says Anita Manley, a longtime Royal volunteer and expert-by-experience. She shares her tips right here.