fields and flour ontario

There's now a place in Ontario you can do baking therapy to reduce your stress

If you've noticed a lot of people baking during these often stressful times, it's not a coincidence: baking is a form of therapy. And now there's a new practice just outside Toronto that professionally helps people to do that.

Fields & Flour Therapy was started up in Hamilton at the beginning of 2021, but the idea had been in social worker Courtney Fuciarelli's mind before pandemic lockdowns got everyone into sourdough.

She had always loved to bake but found herself returning to it for fun as a way to deal with stress. Then when lockdowns did hit, she saw baking gain popularity with many other people doing the same.

"People around me joked that baking was my therapy, and as a social worker in clinical practice, I started to wonder how baking could be used similarly to other psychotherapy or expressive art therapy practices in treating mental health concerns," Fuciarelli tells blogTO.

"I had always been really interested in the idea that nature is therapeutic as well, so when I decided I wanted to open a private practice, I knew I wanted to incorporate these two techniques."

The idea was a hit, and a month after Fields & Flour had opened, Fuciarelli was able to leave the job she was doing and focus on the practice full-time. In addition to therapeutic baking sessions, the practice also offers counselling sessions and nature-based "walk and talk" counselling sessions that take place on local trails.

"When people think of trying to bring mindfulness into their lives as a way to feel more calm, often they feel the only option is traditional 'meditation.' Yet there are so many ways to be mindful," says Fuciarelli.

"I find that by bringing the sensory application of mixing, measuring, and creating into the therapy room, it allows an approach to healing much like other expressive art therapy practices like art, music, and dance."

So far Fuciarelli is the only therapist at the practice with a baking component incorporating it into her sessions, but other associate therapists have expressed interest in blending baking into their work as well.

Fuciarelli is planning on providing consultation and training to more of the team, and they will have a dedicated kitchen therapy room in the new office space they're moving into. Their current space is shared with Wildflour Fields, their storefront which started out as a home bakeshop but is now a not-for-profit social enterprise shop.

The retail store sells baked goods as well as books, mental health resources and self-care items. These sales help the practice fund a low-cost counselling initiative that seeks to bridge the gap between a need for care and the prohibitive pricing associated with a private practice.

In February the practice will move to its own space next door, meaning the bakeshop can have regular opening hours. They're also hoping to start a therapeutic and vocational youth internship program for young people with mental health issues, plus open a studio space dedicated to classes, workshops and group therapy this winter.

"By blending baking alongside the regular therapy techniques we typically use as psychotherapists, I find it changes the session. It brings out stronger emotions, and at times, memories, in such a powerful way," says Fuciarelli. 

"It engages all the senses and helps clients with emotion regulation.  Taking home what they've made has also allowed clients to engage in conversation with people in their lives, and extended the efficacy beyond the original session. Plus, it's really fun."

You can get started on finding out if Fields & Flour Therapy is right for you by booking a free consultation.

Lead photo by

Fields & Flour Therapy

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