New Creative Therapies Coordinator Ushers in a Dedication to Innovation
Melanie Frohnheiser has been named Clinical Coordinator of Creative Therapies and Wellness at Eagleville Hospital.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to help and to provide people, including our own staff, with cutting-edge and inclusive programming,” Frohnheiser says. “I want to build the Creative Therapies and Wellness program into one of the elite programs in the country.”
Frohnheiser has spent much of her 30-year career with KidsPeace, a nearly 140-year-old private charity that serves the behavioral and mental health needs of children and their families. Through the years, she worked in various roles, most recently as the manager of creative therapies and recreation at the organization’s Orchard Hills campus in Orefield, Pennsylvania.
Prior to her appointment at Eagleville, Frohnheiser worked as a rehabilitation therapist for the Department of State Hospitals in central California. There, she guided male patients and state prisoners through rehabilitation practices that addressed coping strategies, recovery from substance use disorders, and recreational and vocational skills.
“I’d grown up in Pennsylvania and spent all of my career here to that point. I was looking for a new challenge when I took the job in California,” Frohnheiser says. “While I was there, seeing the prevalence of substance use disorder issues and being involved with their recovery made me realize that this was a community I wanted to become more invested in.”
Frohnheiser graduated with a bachelor of science degree in therapeutic recreation and leisure studies from Temple University. She became a certified therapeutic recreation specialist in 1992.
“Recreational therapists like myself have had to prove ourselves at every turn, to convince everyone around us of the benefits of what we do and the value it brings to our patients and their treatment,” she says. “I believe there’s a much better understanding today among institutions and policymakers. The support I’ve received here at Eagleville thus far has been positive and refreshing.”
“Creative therapists, by their very nature, are basically wired to think outside the box, to push the envelope,” Frohnheiser says. “So, we’ll be trying new things all the time to give our patients innovative, dynamic opportunities to enhance their recovery and their wellbeing.”
In the immediate future, Frohnheiser plans to expand the hospital’s music therapy program and offer yoga and meditation classes, including some each week exclusively for the staff. “There are going to be some leisure activities that they can get involved in, too. And the fitness room will be open only for them during certain hours every week,” she says. “Patient-centered as every service is meant to be, self-care is just as important for our staff.”
Frohnheiser says she’s also going to revive the hospital’s long-dormant ropes course. “I want to incorporate it in a big way to help our patients understand that there are safe ways to challenge themselves,” she says.
The future of substance use disorder treatment is here at Eagleville. And this is just a sampling of the evidence-based innovations that are taking hold.