|Snoezelen Therapy Calms and Relaxes Patients |
Snoezelen Therapy Calms and Relaxes Patients
Nathaniel (Nate) Gencarelli and Tiana Brown, relatives of REACH Program staff, try out some of the new therapy room’s activities.
Parents of young children understand the calming
power of Margaret Wise Brown’s soothing prose in
Goodnight Moon. Paired with Clement Hurd’s
illustrations, the timeless classic has lulled the fussiest child
into a relaxed state.
Therapists at Bridgeport Hospital’s
REACH Child Program (an outpatient
psychiatric treatment service)
recently unveiled a new therapy
that also uses a celestial theme
to help anxious or agitated patients
calm down. In what is called a
Snoezelen (pronounced SNOOzeh-
lin) Room, children relax in
a complex sensory environment
furnished with soothing activities,
tactile sensations, minimal lighting
and peaceful music.
“Snoezelen provides patients with
multisensory experiences in a safe
environment,” explains Kristine Rabel, Certified
Therapeutic Recreational Specialist for the REACH Child
Program. “The activities help redirect and relax them so
they can return to participate in the treatment groups.”
Snoezelen therapy was first used in the late 1970s in the
Netherlands as a method of working with developmentally
disabled children and with older adult patients with
dementia. The techniques are based on the idea that symptoms such as anxiety and agitation may result from
periods of sensory deprivation.
This innovative therapy further enhances the creative
techniques used in the REACH Child Program. Designed
for children 5 to 12 years old who are experiencing emotional
or behavioral difficulties,
the program is used to reduce the
need for hospitalization or placement
in special residential facilities
by providing intensive psychiatric
care in an outpatient setting.
“The REACH staff is highly trained
in using special techniques to prevent
children from behaving in
an aggressive or disruptive manner,”
says Patricia Rizzi, PsyD (Doctor
of Psychology), Director of
the REACH Program. “We have
looked at many strategies to identify
and calm children so they don’t have
to be isolated from their fellow patients. Snoezelen is
a method that has worked in a variety of settings where
non-restrictive behavioral control is the goal.”
Patients are referred to REACH by schools,
clinics, physicians, social service agencies and other
healthcare providers. Parents can also make direct
referrals to the program. For information, please call
the REACH office at 203-384-3377.
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