A Brief Rationale for an Integrative Approach

Music therapist integrative therapy Cape Town  Melissa Ellse
Integrative Therapy in Cape Town with Melissa Ellse

We are all unique 🌟

An integrative therapeutic approach draws thoughtfully from various theories, methods and techniques based on the individual’s strengths, needs and concerns.


There is no one-size-fits-all. It simply does not exist. Every single encounter we have with one another is both meaningful and unique. This is because we are human and beautifully complex.


I’ve learned this first hand in my own therapeutic processes, which is why I strive to be integrative, intuitive and informed in my approach. And my approach will probably not work for everyone, because we are all unique 🌟 and that is truly wonderful.

To find out more, click here.

Bipolar Lifestyle Support

“… despite how bipolar disorder may leave one feeling, there is realistic and attainable hope for balance, positivity, health and meaningful living.”

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with bipolar disorder? Struggling with uncontrollable mood fluctuations, unpredictable energy levels and unpleasant medication side effects? Treatment options failing you?

Bipolar is a complex disorder. The medical model offers some assistance with various medications, but it often falls short of providing lasting relief. In order to survive and thrive in daily life, it is essential that a treatment is integrative and holistic, taking the entire person and their unique story, symptoms, strengths, needs and desires into account.

I help people establish and maintain healthy, positive lifestyles, manage symptoms and concerns as well as facilitate a deeper knowledge of the Self. ‘Lifestyle’ factors are far more important than they are often given credit for. Diet, exercise, sleep, mindset, daily structure and relationships are some examples of lifestyle factors that influence the progression of the disorder and maintenance of wellness.

Practical and experienced, empathic assistance is greatly beneficial for establishing and helping maintain positive lifestyle factors, managing symptoms and medical/non-medical treatment options, providing accountability, reality-checking and validation.

Along with receiving practical advice and lifestyle assistance (where necessary), my clients embark on a process of deeper engagement with the Self, wherein we utilise verbal dialogue and creative, symbolic work. It is a process of meaning-making. Together, we will trace your self-story (sometimes called a personal mythology), which is a meaningful, individualised life-narrative based on your particular experiences, beliefs, personal symbols and meaning-making process . We map this purposeful, unique and continuous self-story onto your current experiences and defining beliefs, as well as connecting the story with larger, archetypal (or universal) psychological and spiritual patterns. This provides us with a mythological or spiritual heritage, so to speak.

Essentially, this process elevates the struggle (depression, mania, psychosis, broken relationships, internal battles, self-harm, addiction, shame, intrusive thoughts etc.) and affirms the Self and it’s various, oft-unrecognised accomplishments.

You can discover meaning, transformation and different perspectives, behaviour change and a sense of your connectedness to a larger pattern or story. You can rediscover ownership of your experiences, your life narrative and the direction you choose to go. You can find hope and confidence for facing the future, or even the present.

Any teens or adults can engage in this process, no matter the current mood state.

Bipolar disorder is associated with a relatively high prevalence of suicide and should be taken very seriously. Besides the risk of suicide, the impact that various mood states can have on an individual’s relationships, commitments and self-worth may also be devastating. However, in spite of, or perhaps because of extreme mood states, individual’s have an unusually great opportunity for self-mastery, connection, creativity, awareness and self-knowledge, which in turn radiate outward in relationships and affect the world in positive ripples.

The message is this: despite how bipolar disorder may leave one feeling, there is realistic and attainable hope for balance, positivity, health and meaningful living. Accessing this knowledge is admittedly extremely difficult at times and experienced, empathic support can be invaluable to gaining greater traction on one’s life or maintaining wellness.

For more information on Bipolar Support, please click here.

~ Melissa McWalter Ellse, HPCSA registered arts therapist (AT 0001350)

Peddling Blossoms

The Full Circle Peddling Blossoms - blessing poem

Give up what you do not want, now.
Give up what you do not need.
Strip down; strip yourself down to bare, raw, bone essentials.


Beg the wind to blow away the excess and then plead for it to take away even more –
yes, even that which you thought you could not live without.
Strip down to the Imperishable I,
the Eternal Essence,
the bone-deep, soul-deep brutal burning that no fierce gale can sweep away.


And when you are only a kernel, a seed, a bare, tiny fraction of the earth, your very existence will call out with pure, raw potential
and you will be heard.
You will be heard by the mountain, by the river and by the sky.
You will be heard by the smallest creature, by the widest expanse and by the deepest, chasmic depth.


You will be allowed passage into fertile ground, granted the right to flow, to go
where previously you were too large and cumbersome to tread.
The immensity of your promise in this world will be borne within your humbled and holy frame,
Borne through the long season, the longest night and the darkness of the dirt that you must endure.


And then, as it should be, and as it is, you shall begin to expand, upward and downward, inward and outward, rooted in life-giving, life-promising earth,
rising true toward the sun,
renewed and blessed.
You will be blessed.

Intention Setting for 2020

Now available: Creative INTENTION SETTING 2 hour session in preparation for and contemplation of 2020. Choose awareness and intention as you embrace your potential and invite prosperity. This is a tried and trusted process with the powerful effect of consciously and unconsciously guiding you toward your goals and desires. Mark the passage from one year to the next in order to step more fully into your potential.

Mixed creative media (pastels, collage etc.), intentional use of music-listening to stimulate the process and verbal reflection and contemplation. All materials provided. No ‘creative’ experience necessary.

Available for adults or teens. Individual or group bookings available in Cape Town.

To book, click here.

Sunrise

Friend, this Peak you face is high and the climb is brutal.
When you look up, you will see darkness; when you look down, you will see darkness – I won’t lie to you.
Yes, you know this is a long, dark, cold night,
and you feel each step, each breath, is a fight.
I won’t lie to you, my friend.

You will continue the climb in these conditions, harsh, unforgiving, painful.
You will continue because you want to see.
You will continue because you have to.

Friend, when your last reserves’ last reserves have been depleted,
you will turn inward and find coldness;
you will turn outward and find coldness.
I won’t lie to you.

Listen closely, my friend, to what will happen next:
First you will feel, then you will see.
Slowly, the cold, the dark, the timelessness will be erased.
Life will become vivid and warm again.
Friend, your reserves will be restored, you will be restored.
I won’t lie to you, you will not know how to speak of your experience.
For those who have faced the Peak, it is called the Sunrise.

Discovering Meaning in Transition

If life is a journey, most of us can identify transitional points along the way and perhaps some of us are negotiating these now. Transitions bring change, transformation, creativity and hope but they are often made of loss, confusion, illness and anger. You can, however, harness the power of transitional moments or periods in your life, heal and move into new spaces, finding meaning in the journey.

I am privileged to have been witness to the courage of my clients: those learning to embrace new things, those accepting themselves or others, those finally saying no, those finding their voices, those learning to let go, those walking the difficult path of grief and those navigating the treacherous waters of mental and physical health problems.

Clients have said that the sessions validated where they currently are and gave “permission to go into the future”.

Discovering meaning in transition is essential in order to tie our story together and make sense of who we are. This allows us to walk a full circle and brings a sense of completion to each journey we take, whether it be relationship-oriented, career-oriented, health-oriented or self-development-oriented. Only from this space of self-knowledge can we make sense of what we want, where we want to be and where we have come from. The process of meaning making and engaging with ourselves so deeply and honestly is difficult at times – sometimes it seems easier to forget or ignore parts of who we are or where we are. Yet our core or essence — our true self — wants to enter into conversation with us and bring transformation, healing and integration. During these conversations, we begin to discover meaning in transition and it is a rewarding, memorable journey, unique to each individual.

I use a variety of approaches in my practice to facilitate the discovery of meaning in transition including:

ARTS THERAPY – MUSIC THERAPY

DREAM WORK

MANDALA ANALYSIS

GUIDED IMAGERY, SOUND AND MUSIC

VOICE WORK

ECOTHERAPY

DEEP RELAXATION SESSIONS

Sessions are 60 – 90 minutes and aimed at adults and some teenagers. My practice is located in a beautiful garden studio in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa. Please click here to book a session.