This Spring our program participants have flourished under the direction of Julie McIntyre during our art therapy segments. We know the importance of this amazing component of our day program, and look forward to encouraging the artist within all of our program participants!
What Is Art Therapy?
The first thing you need to understand about therapy involving art is how it works and its overall goals. As the name implies, art therapy is the therapeutic use of art for those who suffer from illnesses, trauma or any other kinds of challenges faced in everyday life, such as those that come with aging. It is also used for anyone looking to find some personal development in their lives.
Individuals work with art therapists who have training in both art and therapy and know how to combine the two in creative and constructive ways. With a good relationship with an art therapist, patients can experience several benefits including:
- Coping with traumatic experiences
- Coping with stress
- Dealing with symptoms of diseases or other medical conditions
- Enhancing cognitive abilities, which may be especially beneficial to those dealing with mental afflictions such as dementia
- Enhancing self-awareness as well as awareness of others
- Receiving an affirmation of daily living through creating something with their own hands
Expressive Arts Therapies at PEP
The older adult benefits enormously through creative activity. They are at a point in life when circumstances cause complex emotions and challenges. They are dealing with transitions; loss of loved ones, loss of physical mobility and or feelings of isolation. The power of creativity is monumental. Artists and innovators know the experience. Yet creativity is no way limited to the artist. We have had to be creative in our everyday lives as mothers, fathers, teachers, businessmen and women. With more leisure time and more adjustments to be made, a perfect time to be involved in creative activities is in retirement years. Creative art forms may offer a hobby, a passion, or tools for dealing with life’s issues.
Creative expression can be an outlet to release important feelings or thoughts that are new and confusing. For older adults, using art to communicate and process the complex events in their life opens a new door full of wonderful materials and structures that bring surprise and satisfaction. When life or physical changes limit prior activities, it is crucial that we retrain ourselves in areas where we can continue to feel joy. When we express ourselves, we stay engaged in our world and can interact. The frustration of the hearing impaired or the sight impaired is significantly diminished when becoming involved in new and creative activities. For elders who are alone and isolated, being able to express themselves in a way that keeps them alert, independent, and connected is a positive change. Specific structures and activities bring people closer while encouraging productivity, individuality and responsibility.
The environment at PEP is a place where every sense can be stimulated, sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Creativity in various arts, such as literary art, music, and visual art provides opportunities for older adults to open new avenues to self-expression and life review. In the aging process artistic endeavors are worthy tools for reminiscence, closure, progress and connection making.
Benefits of the expressive and creative arts to the elderly are:
- Mental clarity and growth
- Staying engaged in life
- Bringing happy memories of the past together with the present
- Offering choice and control
- Increased awareness of environmental factors
- A means of expressing the elusive such as the divine or spiritual experiences of life
- Adaptation and smooth transitions
- Social support and interaction
- Improved emotional state
- Positive feelings and outlook
- A sense of well being
- Expressing loss and sadness
- Establishing a new and positive identity
- Feelings of responsibility and productivity