Chocolate Therapy for Trauma

Chocolate. The very word itself conjures up images that evoke happy thoughts, relaxation, pleasure and pain relief.

Hana Levi Julian , | updated: 13:27

Chocolate. The very word conjures up images that evoke happy thoughts, relaxation, pleasure and pain relief.

It has also become a tool for rehabilitation in Ra’anana, where two psychologists at the Beit Loewenstein Rehabilitation Hospital have created a chocolate sculpture therapy program.

Dr. Miri Tadir and Aviva Edelman work at the hospital’s Traumatic Brain Injury Unit, where they use chocolate to increase their patients’ pleasure while helping them to express issues that are difficult to verbalize.

“We wanted a little diversity, a little color,” said Tadir in an interview with Israel21c. Edelman added, “Psychological treatment often has a stigma. [People think] you have to be abnormal to get this treatment. Especially when you already feel that something is wrong with your head. We wanted something a bit more appealing.”

The first three-month, 12-session weekly workshop began last year with a group of eight patients. A second course began in February with eight new patients and the two clinicians are closely monitoring the results, to be discussed in a paper about the new form of therapy.

After the patients’ hour-long session with the chocolate, said Tadir, “they can talk about all kinds of things that are not directly connected” with the confection. “If you are doing what we do, psychological work, you can see the underlying processes which are probably coming from the work with the chocolate,” she added.

Only the best chocolate is used in the sessions, the psychologists assured. Dark Belgian, milk and white chocolate as well as various filling substances all go into making the creations that express the patients’ thoughts and feelings. “They learn how to melt it, you have to have it at the right temperature, we bought a special thermometer to control this,” said Edelman.

Patients have been enthusiastic about the course, she said. “We were taught that you are not supposed to play with your food,” she noted. With a smile, she said, “We are playing with food!”