Every now and then I hear someone refer to their hobby as
therapy. What's worse is when they say, cheaper
than therapy. I was recently watching a craft program on
television. The guest presentor nervously laughed about her
extensive involvement in her craftwork and made the remark
that, well, it's cheaper than therapy.
really cheaper than therapy? Some hobbies can be very
expensive in terms of supplies, equipment and fees. Making
quilts, for example, is expensive nowadays. You need a good
sewing machine. You need fabric, thread, batting, patterns,
and lots of time and patience. Playing a sport is also
expensive. Try pricing a tennis racket or some golf clubs.
Then you also need the appropriate clothing, and a place to
play which usually involves a fee.
I suspect that
people feel a little guilty about all the money they spend on
their hobbies. Perhaps the cheaper than therapy motto
provides an excuse to do what they love and a justification
for the amount of money spent. As though any artistic pursuit
should need justification!
How do people
arrive at a comparison with therapy? Hobbies, crafts and
sports can provide relaxation and socialization, and perhaps
an emotionally stabilizing effect. Some hobbies like fishing
or hiking may produce a meditative or reflective mental state
which is beneficial to the participant. Making a connection
with nature can help people set priorities and restore values.
But this still is not therapy.
a relationship. It involves talking to a professional whom
you trust. Therapy can mean discussing painful emotions,
making difficult changes, facing harsh realities, as well as
discovering strengths and learning to live more fully. If
there were such a thing as evolution, I would say that therapy
speeds up the evolutionary process. A year in therapy might
produce more positive changes than 20 years of sitting on the
river bank with a fishing pole.
What are people
really saying about themselves? It could be that they do
indeed feel a need for therapy. Perhaps they are unhappy,
dissatisfied, or troubled in some way. A hobby may at least
provide distraction and relief from daily stress. Moreover,
a hobby does not carry a stigma like therapy does. If you
make a quilt, you have a beautiful product to show your
friends. If you go to therapy, the results are deeply
personal and more private.
actually a bargain considering the lifelong usefulness of the
emotional gains. It is a worthy investment in oneself, and
it has a healthy ripple effect for the whole family and for
society. The cheaper than therapy remark is almost
like a slur. It sounds like a prejudice against people who
make their living by helping others.
great. I have several myself. Looking forward to my hobbies
refreshes the quality of my life. In fact, getting a hobby is
often a goal which I encourage for my therapy patients. But
hobbies are not the equivalent of therapy. An apple is not an
orange. A horse is not a cat. A hobby is not therapy.
Until we meet