McGrane, Christine

Advisor Department

Nursing, College of




Meghan Neubauer

Abstract: Complementary Therapies as Stress-Reduction in Children with Mental Illness

Mental Illness is being diagnosed at a faster rate and in younger populations than in the past. While children with Mental Illness face a number of physical, social, and emotional concerns, how can we balance a child’s physical, social, emotional, and developmental needs while supporting mental wellness? The National Institute for Mental Health identifies current treatment for children with mental illness to include psychotherapy and medications. Complementary therapies can help support children’s therapy by reducing stress in children with mental illness. If we can reduce stress in children with mental illness, then we can reduce the amount of distress they experience, therefore improving their quality of life. Through a review of literature and fieldwork experience at Bradley Hospital, East Providence, RI, during the Summer of 2014 complementary therapies were explored as a benefit to the treatment of children with mental illness. Complementary Therapies include: Art Therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Expressive Dance, Pet Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Yoga. Of these therapies, art therapy provided the most immediate short-term stress reduction, due to kinetic manipulation, and visual experience, and cognitive-behavioral therapy provided the most long-term gains for stress reduction as it equipped patients with stress-reduction techniques to utilize when a stressful event arises.