Valerie Sabbah – An Artistic Alternative Approach to Healthy Living!

Health and Social Services
– Susan Woodfine

Valerie Sabbah arrived in Rimouski less than three years ago but is already a well known name amongst the city’s cultural community. She has also managed to leave her artistic footprint at Metis Beach School in the way of an integrated dance and movement stage production that tackled hard issues such as bullying and intimidation.

When Sabbah left Montreal in 2010, she was “done with the big city.” She left behind a successful yoga, meditation, and psychosomatic therapy practice in St. Henri called The Way Through.  Sabbah’s clientele varied from parents to teachers to teens in need of support as a result of physical or psychological trauma. She also met with teenagers looking for self-acceptance and struggling to belong. The former high school teacher loved her therapy practice. But Sabbah needed time out, she had her own struggles – including a desire to establish herself as an artist and choreographer.

So how does somebody just pack up and leave a great city with endless artistic opportunities for a place they have never heard about? Well, this story of arrival in eastern Quebec is comical; one could suggest the stars were aligned. “I didn’t choose Rimouski, it sort of chose me,” Sabbah says, “I knew of Gaspésie,” but this Montreal native embarrassingly admits, “I honestly didn’t think a lot was happening out there, I thought this place was just about landscapes and nothing more. Rimouski? Where’s that?”

Rimouski first hit Sabbah’s radar when her partner came for a work-related visit several years back. Clearly, this city proved her wrong as she saw that Rimouski is more than just a pretty coastal landscape.

Sabbah’s resumé to date is impressive. Upon arrival, she produced, with her filmmaker partner Martin Charron, an offbeat trilogy film series about their arrival. Since then she has produced numerous dance productions, in various venues, collaborating with regional artists and now currently sits on several cultural boards.  Sabbah is also known among budding young dancers – she taught classical ballet and recently wore the hat of artistic director at  l’École de danse Quatre Temps for its year end show, SILVA.

So what’s her take since arriving?  “It is not Montreal, and thank god it’s not! I think [Rimouski] is a lot like a cultural springboard,” Sabbah explains, “the opportunities are endless and the artistic community is very much like a family, everyone is here to support you.”

Sabbah feels good these days; she has made her mark and established herself as a dancer and choreographer; she is also about to embark upon a new journey as artist in residence at the beautiful Théâtre du Bic. The residency comes with staff support that will showcase her dance production, Enter the Room  at the Bic venue in their 2013-14 programming.

If you are wondering why we are featuring Valerie Sabbah in our health and social services segment it is because Sabbah has started up her therapy practice again and the big news is that she offers consultations in English and French.

Sabbah uses creative approaches to help children to address issues that they face in school settings and at home. She uses dance, drawing-visualization, meditation and hands-on approaches such as Cranio-Sacral therapy and faschiatherapy.  Sabbah lets the client play a role in how they would like to work on expressing themselves and dealing with different issues.

With more than 20 years experience, Sabbah has seen a lot and understands kids’ frustrations. She is also speaking from experience, “I didn’t find school an easy place to be and I was quite often frustrated to the point of regularly sending letters [to school officials] about how I thought things should be taught.”

Sabbah saw the light in alternative approaches while doing her degree in education at Concordia University, “I was very inspired by Howard Gardner’s Frames of Mind which focus on multiple intelligences. I remember the exact day when my fingers touched that book in the library and I pulled it out to read. The idea that we all have a different entry point to how we learn was an amazing turning point for me.” During her undergraduate studies, Sabbah was also introduced to meditation and how to use this approach with children to help them have maximum access to their learning.  Sabbah is recognized as a naturotherapist and incorporates that approach with her teaching and creative arts background.

Valerie Sabbah offers private therapy sessions for children, teens and adults in French and English. For more information, you may contact Valerie at valeriesabbah@gmail.com

Glossary

CranioSacral therapy
CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance. Using a soft touch which is generally no greater than 5 grams – about the weight of a nickel – practitioners release restrictions in the soft tissues that surround the central nervous system. CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and it’s effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction.

Faschiatherapy
A fasciatherapy treatment is like a soft and deep massage. The fasciatherapist, with precise and exacting manual therapy will restore the coherence and amplitude of the internal movement. Then the body will regains its mobility and reorganizes itself to reach its full health potential.
Fascia is a tissue inside the body that wraps muscles, bones, organs, blood vessels, etc. These fascias are bound together like a spider’s web. They are animated by an internal movement, even when the body is not moving.
Fascias are very sensitive to stress. Prolonged or repeated stress will cause the fascia to retract and the internal movement to slowdown or stop, resulting in discomfort, tension, pain, stiffness, etc. with an associated loss of vitality and sense of direction to your life.

Naturotherapy
Naturotherapy incorporates a variety of natural approaches (actively through diet/nutrition and exercise and passively through rest and relaxation) to promote health and wellbeing on all levels: body, mind and spirit. Naturotherapy is complimentary and can be utilized on its own or together with conventional medicine to support health and healing in all of its aspects.

Psychosomatic therapy
Psychosomatic Therapy is a holistic approach to the prevention and management of human disease based on the bilateral relationship between the mind (psyche) and body (soma).
Once areas of stress, tension and discomfort are apparent, the aim of the therapist is to restore mental, emotional and physical balance. A combination of techniques is applied including emotional-release bodywork, counseling, postural alignment, breathing techniques and detailed body-mind analysis and reporting.

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