June 23, 2005

Art Therapy Helps?

Disabled share their experiences through art

Art therapy is a form of therapy that isn't researched often. Its goal "is not to produce beautiful art, but to help people communicate their thoughts and emotions, create a sense of accomplishment and foster problem-solving skills. Often, participants explore, with their therapists, what their creations mean to them."

Though research is limited, "studies with children traumatized by illness and with adult cancer survivors suggest that art therapy is beneficial, said Dr. Nancy Gerber, director of graduate art therapy education at Drexel University's Hahnemann Creative Arts in Therapy program." Though psychiatrists have been studying art created by their patients for years, the first graduate program in art therapy didn't begin until 1967.

In May, 35 people with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to mental disorders such as schizophrenia participated in an exhibit called "Our Stories" hosted by the Art Institute in Pittsburgh. All participants were involved in the "'Everyone An Artist' program at Allegheny East Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center. The nonprofit center provides services to people with disabilities and operates an art studio and gallery in Lawrenceville that exclusively features their work."

Full Story:http://tinyurl.com/b7qjl


For More information on Schizophrenia and Art Therapy:

Art therapy for schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like illnesses

Art Helps Woman Cope With Schizophrenia

Published Academic Research on Schizophrenia and Art Therapy


I have my own theory on art therapy. I don't think it's so much the art that is therapy but doing something meaningful that is therapy.

I believe our children often feel bored and not stimulated enough. By introducing them to hobbies or other things we enjoy could possible lead to new found passions.

I believe sharing our passions with our children gives them the added benefit of seeing a parent share their joy.

To often I've seen our children involved in meaningless activities at club houses for the mentally ill.

As parents if we are diligent and creative enough we can spark joy in our children's lives by helping them find something meaningful to do.

Posted by: Moeder at June 23, 2005 10:01 PM

I am an art therapist in a psychiatric unit in Bridgeport CT. Both the art product and the art process is useful in assessment and treatment. The process empowers those with schizophrenia and the art product helps the artist organize their thoughts. Their artwork is shared with the multidisciplinary team to support the patients progress.

Posted by: Margaret McGovern at February 14, 2007 05:17 PM

A child, with early-childhood neurobilogical brain disorders ranging from Learning Disabilities to Major depression to Tourette syndrome to schizoaffective disorders began "expressive art therapy" at age 7.

Being the cautious, wary person she was, it was good for her to slowly develop a trusting relationship with her art therapist while doing therapeutic work that she loved. Their relationship lasted her into adulthood.

Also, as a child, she was traumatized by her psychotic episodes the same way that PTSD would develop from "real" trauma. Her art created a world in which she felt safe - a world where children with disabilities were not mocked by other children - a world in which accomodations were standard.

So, for her, the art therapy had multifaceted therapeutic value.

Every now and then there would be meetings between the parents, child and therapist in order to discuss issues that came out in order for us to come to compromises on how to best meet the daughter's specific needs better.

It took years of the expressive arts therapy for her to be able to articulate what was behind some "behaviors" such as screaming fits, which she finally articulated as being sensory and emotional "overload", and she just felt a need to do what she did. It helped her to be able to articulate that rather than be confused, herself by why she would scream for hours.

I am "sold" on its value.

Posted by: Jeanie at February 15, 2007 11:10 AM

I have just become aware of vanishing twin syndrome. 30 years ago my pregnancy had all the classic signs of a miscarriage. This went on for over 3 months of the pregnancy,pain, bleeding and bits of tissue loss.

When my son was born there were 2 placentas. I have enough signs of 'vanishing twin syndrome' to now put the picture together.

A very very difficult baby/toddler/teen - in a world of his own, but very very intellegent. Teachers found him non complient, wanting to do his own thing, yet the educational psychologist thought him highly mature and bright - aged six.

that attention he got went on hold for a few years. Then aged 17 he decided to misuse substances and had a terrifying psychotic attack, and soon after labelled schizophrenic.

He's now almost 30 years old, and has been in and out of psychiatric services all of that time. He's now in the intitial stages of taking Clozapine - had all kinds of tests, and being brain scanned again to see if he has any sings of epilepsy as is the so called norms with this last chance cafe drug.

I have no faith in any of the meds. simply because my son was born like he was otherwise the school would not have wheeled in the educational psychologist and other concerns were only mentioned because of his .non-mainstream compliance.

No one is listening - least of all the medics that my son's pregnancy, birth, early years were cause for concern. No, all that has been cut off, and the medics are treating him like he has always been a schizophrenic man with a ''normal'' medical history before that.

He mentioned he'd like to do art therapy - there are no activities for any of the patients much.

He may have been a twin, and by all the signs I suffered and witnessed he probably was. Twins are on my father's side. One in eight of us apparently start off in utero as a twin, and the classic signs of losing a twin are a perceived miscarriage - everything fits and I've ticked all the boxes.

Even though it was 30 years ago now, both my parents dead, my son in hospital on mental health section again, I just feel myself emotionally wounded.

On top of this my son is in a hospital 35 miles away from where I live, and I face difficulties in seeing him not being a car driver.

I live in England. I would not call it the most advanced and caring country in the western world. I really want to supplement my son's recovery - any clues as it's mostly a five minute daily phone call to date?

Any of this sound familiar to any mums/dads?

my email is

Posted by: Jane at February 17, 2007 12:25 AM

I personally don't have experience with schizophrenia or art therapy. There is, however, an interesting film on the subject that I saw in New York recently.

It's about a schizophrenic painter named Alan Streets, who instead of taking medication, uses his art as treatment. He goes out to different locations every day and paints the buildings and other landmarks.

The film and his work give you a good idea of how his mind works. I don't know when it's getting a release, but here's the website: www.mynameisalan.com

Posted by: j. lane at September 5, 2007 01:12 PM

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