Therapeutic Work in Camphill
Combining wisdom from philosophy and the arts; alternative medicine, therapies, and nutritional approaches; and current science, Camphill communities have developed a comprehensive therapeutic way of life for people with significant cognitive disabilities that has been remarkably successful in enabling them to function at a high level in supportive communities and enjoy satisfaction in their lives. The therapeutic approach starts with an assumption that people with disabilities are able to develop, learn, understand, contribute, and grow in their own ways – meaning, in part, that disabilities are recognized as a call to adjust methods, rather than expectations.
A calming rhythm in daily life, boundaries on mass media and the extremes of popular culture, and an orientation to interpersonal relationships help to focus therapeutic work on individual development. Camphill emphasizes identifying and promoting the specific gifts and contributions of each community member with disabilities, and facilitating their choices. We offer music, movement, painting, theater, massage, sports, physical therapy, garden work, craft work, academic education, jobs inside and outside the community, and a host of other opportunities for community members with disabilities to develop to their potential and contribute as peers and colleagues in community life.
We find that people with cognitive disabilities who come to Camphill communities experience responsibility, independence and recognition, develop resilience, and a preference for the healthy Camphill lifestyle. As many parents of Camphill residents report, the home vacations where potato chips and TV prevail usually end quickly, with the Camphillers expressing the desire to return to their Camphill life.
Many Camphill communities raise cattle, pigs, and other animals for food, maintain appropriate grazing for the animals, as well as tending orchards, vegetable, berry and herb gardens, beehives, and sustain other agricultural projects, such as honey and jam production. All of this activity on the land is guided by principles of caring for the soil – and thus the health of animals and humans – in ways that enhance nutrients naturally and protect from toxins. The principles of Biodynamic farming are increasingly being recognized as a step up from “organic” in a world where health-conscious people want to know where their food is coming from.
The Camphill Association is part of the Biodynamic Association Business Partner program, we also have several communities that participate in the North American Biodynamic Apprenticeship Program which is a program that supports aspiring farmers to develop the skills needed to run a successful farm.
Longtime coworker Sherry Wildfeuer on health and biodynamics:
“Human beings need to eat food which has been grown with a strong connection to the earth. Without this we lose our own grounding and orientation. Many of the symptoms that we suffer in our culture today are the result of people having eaten for decades food which no longer properly bears the connection to the earth. When Rudolf Steiner spoke about animal nutrition he said that the cows fed wrongly will not show the results, but succeeding generations will not have healthy instincts. It appears that this is not only true of animal nutrition. The rehabilitation of society must be based on a new revolution in the field of agriculture which is not based on quantity but on quality.”
Sustainable Architecture and Habitats
Camphill communities are more directly engaged than most small towns in the questions about where their water comes from and where it goes, where their heat comes from and what it costs in money and environmental impact, and how to build in ways that minimize the communities’ impact on the earth while still providing comfort for people with disabilities and the coworker families and children of the Camphill communities. Examples include a leading-edge, plant-based waste-water filtration system in one community and buildings in many communities that are designed to minimize the need for conventional energy. Learn more…