By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Having a Blue Christmas? There’s a remedy under the tree for you this year.
On December 13, Family and Community Support Services Coaldale will be hosting Blue Christmas: A Therapeutic Drumming Group for Grief in the Holiday Season from 7 to 8 p.m. at Coaldale FCSS.
“Therapeutic drumming involves a safe space where drumming direction is provided so that participants can relax in a safe space free from judgment or expectation,” said Amanda Fontaine, a counsellor at FCSS. “The drumming itself helps to process difficult emotion in a fun way that allows for a sense of connection and shared experience with the rest of the group. No previous musical knowledge or experience is needed in order to experience these benefits.”
Fontaine says that Therapeutic Drumming was first brought to FCSS by Counsellor Trevor Gilbert who received training in the modality in 2022.
“Since then, a number of ‘Circle of Rhythm’ groups have been offered to youth and adults,” said Fontaine. “Counsellors also have the ability to facilitate therapeutic drumming groups at other existing programs within FCSS such as Do Crew and senior’s groups.”
Fontaine says she will be co-facilitating this free group with her fellow counsellor Tanie Reid-Walker. The group, Fontaine says, is for individuals of all ages who have experienced grief and loss and for whom the holiday season brings about memories of their loved one resulting in more intensified grief experiences.
“Our counselling team at FCSS frequently notices an increase in the number of counselling clients reporting difficulty coping with grief around the holiday season, so thought a group would reduce the sense of isolation and loneliness that may accompany that experience,” said Fontaine. “We hope that using therapeutic drumming will be a fun and gentle way to do this.”
If people would like to participate, Fontaine says, they can register for the group on the fcss.ca website by clicking on “Programs and Events” and selecting the Blue Christmas group or visiting https://fcss.ca/event/blue-christmas-a-therapeutic-drumming-group-for-grief-in-the-holiday-season/. Anyone within the 16 municipalities that FCSS serves is welcome to register, Fontaine says, and there are approximately 10 registration spaces remaining.
“I have received feedback from other members of the FCSS team that the group is a creative approach to responding to grief, at a time of the year when it is especially needed,” said Fontaine. “Relating to uncomfortable emotion through somatic (body-based) sensations and expression, that grief is a shared human experience, active and applied mindfulness through drumming. Our counselling services are also always open to members of the public, but attending the group will provide participants with the opportunity to meet two members of the counselling team and this may help participants to attend counselling with us in the future. We will be sure to provide information on how to book an appointment for further individual grief counselling if needed.”