Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Monday, August 15, 2016
Art as Therapy With Bev: Coping With Loss; Improving Memory and Brain Function
Well, I feel like I'm back in the (Art Therapist) saddle again. For weeks I have been preparing for, and finally gave, a two and a half-hour session with a lovely 79-year-old woman, Bev, who wanted a painting lesson. I had put an ad in the Napa Register online, advertising painting lessons, and Bev called me up one day, in response to the ad. She was pleased in hearing that I was an Art Therapist as well as a painting instructor. I could tell, talking to her, that she was experiencing memory and verbal expression challenges. In speaking with her on the phone, she would guess or substitute a phrase that was close to what she was trying to communicate, instead of being able to remember the exact phrase. I could guess her meaning much of the time. She told me she suffered from peripheral neuropathy, and that the doctors were still testing her for causes. I put things on hold for a while, due to being busy, and she called me back a month or so later, with one phone call in between. At first she wanted to drive to my house for the lesson and told me that she, accompanied by her daughter, had even practiced driving the route, one day, to my home studio. We later settled on my coming to her house for the art lesson; I felt this was the best option for success. Bev was holding on to her independence and capabilities, and the ability to drive, almost fiercely. She told me that, in the interim, she had taken a fall, so I felt that the lesson at her house would prove to be the safest option. I also knew I would be using my learned Art Therapist skills, as well as artistic guidance skills and intuition. And it helped that she and I had a good feeling, a rapport, you might say, for each other. She was willing to have me over. My background includes providing art materials and working with seniors in various environments: those in Alzheimer's units, retirement homes, nursing facilities, as well as independent, active seniors in local senior centers.
I sensed that Bev needed to feel successful with the lesson. She recalled that in the past when working on an art project, she might "work 'till midnight". This revealed her motivation. Bev described herself as energetic and athletic, as her whole family was, her three daughters, who live in the area, included. My desire for the lesson to be successful for Bev had some factors I knew I needed to keep in mind, simplicity and low frustration levels being a couple of them. She mentioned she would like to paint a red barn, using acrylics. I printed out a few photos of red barns in different settings, as well as samples of other landscapes, florals, and a seascape. Bev took her time looking at each one and asked me to help her choose one that might be easy enough for her to do well. I showed her an evening late sunset silhouette, fairly simple, but then I remembered her red barn idea. She settled on one of the red barn images, the most straightforward one, with a few trees in the background, an interesting sky, and grass in the foreground. Bev frowned at the gray skies of my barn choices, so we decided to change some of the elements in the photo: a blue rather than gray sky, green leaves on the bare trees, and greener grass in the foreground.
Since Bev wanted to feel successful at this painting endeavour, I decided to paint alongside her, so she could watch me, and practice techniques. I noticed that painting flat and curving lines were a challenge for her, as well as knowing when to stop, look at the work with reflection, see the entire picture and comparing the elements together. The barn, I noticed, appeared to have had seen a few decades, as she also had; it shadowed her own life journey and where she is at this moment in time, I thought. Bev was happy with the results and let me photograph her and the work. I will make and print a blank notecard of the painting, and send it to her. I hope to work with her further.
Monday, January 13, 2014
ART THERAPY: DEFINITION ART THERAPY IS A Human Services Profession that utilizes art media, images, the creative art process, and patient/client responses to the created products as reflections of an individual’s abilities, development, personality, interests, concerns and conflicts. Art Therapy practice is based on knowledge of human developmental and psychological theories, which are implemented in the full spectrum of models of assessment and treatment. This includes educational, psychodynamic, cognitive, transpersonal, and other therapeutic means of achieving the following: reconciling emotional conflicts, fostering self-awareness, developing social skills, managing behavior, solving problems, reducing anxiety, aiding reality orientation, and increasing self-esteem. Art Therapy is an effective treatment for the developmentally, medically, educationally, socially, or psychologically impaired. It is practiced in a wide variety of settings, including mental health, rehabilitation, medical, educational and forensic institutions. Populations of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds are served by Art Therapists, in individual, couples, family and group therapy formats.