On any given day Kara Neustaedter doesn’t know if she’ll be talking a client through a traumatic memory or helping them escape with five tiny acupuncture needles.
As a counsellor at Klinic Community Health Centre, Neustaedter is one of eight staff members who are trained to perform acupuncture on clients’ ears.
Klinic offers other alternative therapies like yoga, art therapy, meditation and Qigong, a practice similar to tai chi. Neustaedter says any physical, gentle activity can help people working through trauma have the chance to focus on something else for a little while.
Klinic also offers medical care, and Neustaedter says the different care systems can lead to professional tension.
“Sometimes there’s professional respect that while I might not fully understand how this alternative therapy works, I respect that you do,” she said. “So while it doesn’t work for our department, we will respect that it works for your department. So we’ve struggled to find a way that feels respectful for all our practitioners here to do our programs.”
This is just one example of a Winnipeg health facility that’s incorporating alternative health into its programming. There are several hospitals in Winnipeg that integrate alternative therapies into their services including the Health Sciences Centre.
Kurt Schwarz is a spiritual health practitioner, mainly dedicated to the mental health and addictions units in the hospital. He does one-on-one sessions with patients, facilitates spiritual health gatherings and helps people find external resources after they leave the hospital.
Schwarz wrote and published a book in September 2015 about his own journey with alternative therapies. He says he practices yoga and meditation as a way to stay emotionally available for patients and their families.
Watch the fifth episode of Meta Medicine to see Neustaeder and Schwarz explain more about their work.
A special thank you to Emily Enns for helping to film at the Health Sciences Centre.