Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Mental health minute: The art of healing emotional hurts

Published: October 2, 2012

Artists often get labeled as "emotional," yet the act of creating art can be soothing for many emotional conditions.

Music, visual arts, dance and creative writing promote healing that complements traditional therapies.
Calling forth creative energies changes the focus from individual pain to beauty and art.

Those facing emotional or alcohol and drug challenges can struggle with giving voice to feelings which may have been repressed for many years.

The arts give an opportunity to express in pictures, movement or melody what cannot be said with words.

Manatee Glens Hospital and Addiction Center engages its patients in the expressive arts as part of treatment for behavioral health conditions.

Patients create a healing journal with collage, verse and drawings to chart their journey of recovery.
To encourage communication, patients create finger puppet alter egos to allow for a feeling of separation and safety to express issues in role play.

Other projects include a healing tile wall with each tile designed by an individual patient.
Some patients combine several of the arts in their endeavors. "I listen to music, and I get inspired … it's like I'm visualizing what I'm hearing," explained Manatee Glens artist Lin, who sews and paints. "I like to move my hands over the paint, and it leads to a free-flowing painting … the art is a release and an outlet for what I am feeling." For her, art is a passion.

Arthur, a prolific poet, agrees. "I have to do it.I can't quit. When I'mdepressed, I just startwriting. It really helpsme with my feelings." Arthur also does poetry readings.

People with mental health and addictions concerns often deeply feel the isolation imposed by their illness.

Each October for the past five years, Bradenton's Village of the Arts has bridged this human divide by sponsoring a juried "Art in Recovery" show at still life in g gallery.

"Art in Recovery" begins with an art project where mental health patients and artists make art and social connections. It ends with a month-long gallery exhibit.

Last year, the Narrative Art Quilt Project sponsored by Village of the Arts and Manatee Glens brought quilters andnew artists together tocreate a 30-inch by 30-inch quilt square that depicted the journey to recovery.

Client-artist Kathy was worried because she didn't know how to sew. "When the quilt was finished, I had a great sense of accomplishment," she said. "I had anxiety and depression, and I found that sewing gave me peace."

The result was recognition for her creation at the Still Life in G gallery exhibit.

One of the key elements of expressive art therapyis that the process ofcreating the art promotes healing from withinand self-understanding. The art brings a sense of beauty and hope to the artist.
Those of us who practice expressive arts therapy are fortunate enough to observe a miracle when both art and artist unfold and come to life.

Deborah McKeever, a licensed mental health counselor and certified expressive arts therapist with Manatee Glens, is the owner of Still Life in G gallery in the Bradenton Village of the Arts.

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2012/10/02/4222091/mental-health-minute-the-art-of.html#storylink=cpy

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