Monthly Archives: June 2006

Linda Keck/ clinical psychologist using art

Posted on Fri, Jun. 23, 2006

Linda Keck
By DAWN ZERA For Times Leader

West Side resident Linda Keck, 48, has been able to merge two passions in her life: art and psychology.She earned a bachelor’s degree in art education and then went to work at a hospital that used art as creative therapy. As an art therapist [correction, she is a clinical psychologist who uses art in her practice. Art therapy is a recognized profession with specialized training, not art tagged onto psychology], she helped people use art as a means of self-expression and therapeutic intervention.Keck always had an interest in psychology, and her hospital experience inspired her to pursue a master’s degree in clinical psychology.

She now has a full-time private, outpatient practice in Kingston with special areas of interest in post-traumatic stress, eating disorders and women’s issues.But art still plays an important part in Keck’s life. She is outgoing president of the Wyoming Valley Art League, having served two years. And she offers expressive-arts classes and workshops.“The art-therapy process uses art methods and materials to express thoughts and feelings. Sometimes there are feelings such as depression, anger that people have in life or towards situations that can be expressed through art,”

Keck said. “It can increase relaxation and coping skills. You don’t have to be an artist; many of the creations are symbolic.”At times, she said, she even uses art therapy in her clinical practice, particularly with youths who tend to be less verbal and can express themselves through art. Art, Keck has found, often can open up lines of communication.Keck also implements guided imagery, or “visual journaling,” in her art classes. She asks the individual to focus on something in particular and express the image with art materials.


Times Leader | 06/23/2006 | Linda Keck

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Creative therapies help ailing patients

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 12:08 PM CDT
Creative therapies help ailing patients

By LINDSEY ORY, Courier Staff Writer

WATERLOO — Play. Laugh. Sing. Heal.

It’s an uncomplicated approach to complicated problems, and it works like a charm.While many hospitals still rely on traditional talk-therapy for their patients who have experienced traumatic incidents, some are crossing over to a less traditional form of therapy.

Creative arts therapy — which includes music and art therapy — has been making its mark on the Cedar Valley during the last 16 years.”When I graduated from Waverly as a musical therapist, I was the first
in Northeast Iowa,” said Viki Burk, a music therapist at the Mental
Health Institute in Independence.

“I wanted to be a nurse but I
knew I would never be able to finish the all the biology that was
required,” Burk added. “Two weeks later I stumbled upon music therapy
and was so excited to combine my love of music with my desire to help

Art therapy grew roots in the early 1930s and ’40s, and
gradually schools have created rigid study programs to prepare
prospective therapists.”While I was at Wartburg I had a major instrument and a minor
instrument,” Burk said. “I also had to choose my practicum and complete
a six-month internship at an accredited facility. It was hard work but
well worth it.”

Rachel Johnson, also a Wartburg grad,{M3 is a
music therapist at Cedar Valley Hospice Home. Johnson uses her soothing
vocals accompanied by keyboard or guitar to comfort patients and set
them at ease.

“I started here the 3rd of April and I love it,”
Johnson said. “It’s so rewarding to see the physical effect the music
has on people. Even if they are sleeping you can tell they hear you.”

Music therapy is one of several branches of creative arts therapy.

music, drama, dance and writing therapies allow individuals to receive
the healing they need through nonverbal communication,” said Heather
Breitbach, a recent graduate from Cornell University in Mount Vernon.
Breitbach graduated with a double major in psychology and art.

worked with one child in a movement therapy session,” she said, “and he
would spin and spin in circles saying he was a tornado. Soon he fell
and would not let us help him up. ‘I’m broken and I need you to put me
together’ he told us. That was his way of healing from the trauma he
had experienced in his family.”

Creative arts therapy can help
any number of disorders or conditions, including autism, behavioral
disorders, physical ailments and mental retardation.

The basic
ideas for the healing practices have been around for eons, but weren’t
always called therapy. For example, when children play with dolls or
cars they aren’t just playing, they are acting out different story
lines in their minds. Play and Learning Activities for Youth therapy
utilizes children’s ability to enter fictional worlds to release their
problems, experiences and feelings.

Continued…. | The Waterloo Cedar-Falls Courier Online!

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Primary school art teacher promotes art therapy techniques to diagnose stress

Primary school art teacher promotes art therapy techniques to diagnose stress
video By Joanne Leow,
Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE:  Many feel that art is good for the soul –  but what about for stress?

One primary school teacher feels, there could be more structured ways
in the school system here to tap into art therapy techniques to help
stressed out students.

“Through the art making process, the children actually reveal their
problems or emotional conflicts through art unconsciously, that is why
I think this is ideal. We want to know what is actually inside them,
the inner child inside them, unconsciously, rather than we actually
confront them directly,” said Teffany Chia, a teacher at Yio Chu Kang
Primary School.

Teffany says it would take a trained practitioner to diagnose their mental state from their art.

What she hopes to see is trained counsellors pairing up with art teachers to practise drawing techniques with the children.

Another technique called “blind contour drawing” where the kids
trace the outline of an object without looking at the paper could also
be used to aid students.

“The pupil has to focus on the line while they are tracing out the
subject, while they are doing that, it’s a conscious effort to train
them to forget all other distractions. This is quite good for them to
go through it and search for themselves, what is happening in the world
inside them, just to create awareness,” said Teffany.

Teffany recently received a post graduate degree in Arts Education and learnt about these techniques in the UK.

Teffany says she hopes to see a move beyond just art production in
primary schools to an approach that includes a therapeutic aspect.

But until then – it looks like these kids are just having fun making art. –
Source: CNA /dt

Get creative and colour your life

Get creative and colour your life

Art therapist Andrea Brand says being creative gives people a sense of their inner world – which is the first part of transformation

June 14, 2006 By Jeanne Viall

How you respond with your crayons or paints to a large piece of white paper may tell you a whole lot about what’s going on in your life.And we’re not talking only about the images that emerge, but also the thoughts and process you go through as you create.Creative therapist Andrea Brand works with people to bring movement to the places we get stuck in, whether they be habitual thoughts or actions.She works in the corporate sector, with groups and teams, and one-on-one with adults and children.For many people it’s daunting to “do art”, but it’s the process that’s significant here, not the outcome.

Brand’s Colour Studio in Rondebosch is a place that invites you to play. “My passion is colour,” she says. “I use colour as a form of energy to get the creative juices flowing.”Colour works at an emotional level, she explains. You feel differently when you work with blues instead of reds, for example.In front of me is a huge piece of white paper, some crayons and some paints. I’m invited to express myself and to observe as I do what thoughts come up, what judgments and where I get stuck.People mistakenly think that in art therapy the therapist “analyses” your imagery.

That’s not how Brand works. Rather, she’s on hand to help me when I get stuck, and is a guide in my process.”Often what you do relates to life directly,” says Brand. “For example a person may be afraid of making a mess, so they can’t get started. Or because it’s the unknown, and they’re afraid something won’t work, they don’t do it.”Our own judgments about ourselves are often fiercer than any other – we all carry our inner judges with us, especially around our creativity. In this process you meet them and can transform them so that they don’t stop you from creating what you want in your life. Continued….

Cape Argus – Get creative and colour your life

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New book captures the voices and art of African child refugees

New book captures the voices and art of African child refugees

16 Jun 2006 12:32:11 GMT
Source: UNHCR

As the young refugee “Jenny” read out the traumatic experiences she had faced in her journey from tribal massacres in Burundi to a new life in South Africa, her voice grew increasingly strained, faltered and then halted.For the audience assembled at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, there could not have been a better demonstration of the emotional power conveyed by the personal stories appearing in a new book, The Suitcase Stories: refugee children reclaim their identities.

The book, a by-product of an innovative programme providing art therapy to refugee children, contains both their stories and the drawings they made of their experiences.”Then my parents died. They just burned the house of my family,” reads the transcript of the story told by Jenny, who like all the participants chose the name used in the book. “All my family was living in that house – my mother, my daddy, my other aunty, my mother’s sister, my brother, my sister.

I don’t know why, still now, why they burned the house. I wish to find out.”Just three years old at the time, she survived only because she was with another aunt during the attack. In the following years she faced life in exile in both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. One day when she was 11, she had the sudden realisation that she would never see her mother again.”I asked God: ‘Why did you take my mum away from me?’

And it was like, what can I do next? Let me do some action here that I will never forget in my life,” Jenny related. Taking her younger sister, she made her way south to a country about which she had only the vaguest knowledge.Eventually arriving in South Africa – where they did not speak the language – the two girls lived on the streets of Johannesburg for weeks before they were taken in and given shelter.

Now 20, she sells clothes in an informal market.Jenny was just one of a group of children who Glynis Clacherty, a South African child researcher, saw needed psychological help. The aim – when she first thought of the project in 2001 – was not a book, but to let the children come to terms with their experiences by speaking about and drawing them.Children were given old suitcases and told they could decorate the outsides with paintings about their lives. At the same time, Clacherty recorded long conversations with the children in which she let them tell of their experiences.

Both the artwork and their words are in the book, which was unveiled six days before ceremonies for World Refugee Day are held globally on June 20.”When I first met this group of young people, one of the young women said to me: ‘I want you to help us with a book so people will know why we came here,'” Clacherty said. “And that is what we did. Each one of these children has a remarkable story to tell.”Proceeds from sales of the book will go to fund the continued operation of The Suitcase Project for more refugee children. In addition, T-shirts inspired by the art of the project were unveiled at the book launch.

The profits from the clothing line, designed by Johannesburg-based Frances Andrew, will also go to the project.”They are not just victims, they are survivors. They have overcome difficulties with remarkable courage,” said Clacherty. “They are real human beings, they are not just refugees.”Clacherty started the project with art teacher Diane Welvering, subsequently gaining support from the UN refugee agency and other organisations. It also merged into UNHCR’s study into violence affecting refugee children, which in turn provided insights that will be used in the UN Global Study on Violence

Against Children due out later this year.The children from The Suitcase Project were included in UNHCR workshops using artwork to draw out children’s ideas and experiences on violence. Subsequently five were included in a regional UN meeting in which children not only discussed their experiences as a group, but proposed solutions to protect against further violence.Many who were children when Clacherty launched her project are now young adults and the plan is to draw in a fresh group with the resources from the book and T-shirts.

Many of those who took part joined Clacherty on the stage at the book-launch and their painted suitcases covered the tables.”None of the children want to be labelled as refugees in their present lives, so they have chosen to remain anonymous,” Clacherty wrote in an introduction to the book, “The names they chose to replace their own all have significance for them; they are names of lost parents or special friends from their home countries.”As

I have worked with these stories I have been struck by the sadness, the loss, the displacement that the children have experienced, but also overwhelmingly by their resilience, their ability to make a plan and often to see the funny side of what is happening to them.”

Further information on The Suitcase Project, the book and the T-shirts is available at: Jack ReddenIn Johannesburg, South Africa

Reuters AlertNet – New book captures the voices and art of African child refugees

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Visual journaling

Visual Journaling by the Seat of Your Pants!

By Violette”

“Often the journal page has some incredible
insights for you which lay hidden in the recesses of your subconscious mind
only to be set free by allowing yourself the luxury of being in the flow.”

Visual Journaling need not be daunting or inaccessible to the
novice visual journaler. The way I like to approach it is in an intuitive
manner or by the seat of my pants! This manner of journaling is exciting
because you never know where you’re going to end up. Often the journal
page has some incredible insights for you which lay hidden in the recesses
of your subconscious mind only to be set free by allowing yourself the luxury
of being in the flow.

prepared to be influenced by what is going on around you at the time. For example,
when I’m watching TV while visual journaling,
the programs I’m viewing somehow find their imprint on the page. Once
when I was watching a show on Monty Python, the heading on the journal page
was written in a very scrolly decorative font which was a bit reminiscent
of the fanciful beginnings of the show. Continued….

Art Education Petition in Finland

Adressi taideaineiden opetuksen puolesta

The education in arts in elementary school as well as primary- and
pre-school teacher training has been cut down during the past few years.
We regard arts as a fundamental part of all children’s education and do
not accept this trend.


Art education provides understanding of one’s senses, oneself and the
surrounding world. In today’s media culture this is more important than
ever. We want to believe in a school that cares for the entire
personality with uncompromised integrity.

This petition will be handed over to the Ministry of Education, the
Finnish National Board of Education, and the Parliament of Finland with
in order to initiate a debate on the status of art education.

Please sign…

When Art Imitates Pain, It Can Help Heal, a Therapy Group Finds

When Art Imitates Pain, It Can Help Heal, a Therapy Group Finds – New York Times

When Art Imitates Pain, It Can Help Heal, a Therapy Group Finds

(First published : July 14, 2005)

The psychologist handed a painting by Frida Kahlo to a woman in a group therapy session for depression recently at a Brooklyn hospital. "I want you to tell me what you see here," the psychologist, María Sesín, said in Spanish. "What are you thinking about when you see this? How do you interpret it and relate it to your own lives?"

The paintings of Frida Kahlo help women open up in group therapy for depression at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn.

The woman, Cricelva Villicres, 52, started to cry. "This is a united family," she said. "I cannot identify with them. There was so much violence and blood between my mother and father."

The painting, "My Parents, My Grandparents and I," shows Kahlo as a naked child holding a blood-red ribbon connecting her to portraits of her parents and grandparents. The 11 women gathered around a long table at Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park took turns looking at it. When it was her turn, Vilma, who is 59, said: "It makes me feel very lonely. I have two children, but I am always alone. I do not have a family like this one." Vilma, who lives in
Prospect Park, spoke on the condition that her last name not be used, to protect her privacy.

The painting is one of 12 works by Kahlo that Dr. Sesín uses to treat Hispanic women who are suffering from depression, have been abused and have physical illnesses. The sessions are in Spanish, and the paintings help the women feel more comfortable discussing their traumatic experiences.

Though the effectiveness of her novel practice
has not been extensively evaluated, Dr. Sesín said Kahlo resonated with the women in her group not only because she was Mexican but also because she confronted some of the same emotional and physical problems. The paintings used in the therapy touch on themes like infidelity, violence, male dominance and infertility. Continued….

Mural depicts road to recovery at Sunrise House

New Jersey Herald

Photos by Eric Sucar/NJH
The large mural that was painted by some of the patients at the Sunrise House in Lafayette on Friday, June 9.  The mural, which took about two weeks to complete (one hour a day), is a compilation of eight different drawings patients created.

Herald Staff Writer


Step into the group room at Sunrise House and two doors open to reveal a flaming sun rising behind tall mountains. A paved road leads directly toward the sun with one road sign marking its path: The “Road 2 Recovery.”

The mural was painted by eight teens currently struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. The purpose of the brightly painted wall was to celebrate recovery — a difficult path to tread.

“The group decided the theme would be the ‘Road to Recovery,’ showing the first steps on the path to a different life,” said Katherine “Kate” Smith, clinical coordinator of Sunrise House’s adolescent drug treatment unit. “The purpose was to show them they can finish something they started.”

For more than five years, Sunrise House, an addiction recovery and treatment center in Lafayette, has helped teenagers through “Teen and Clean,” a program aimed at teens with cocaine, marijuana, heroin and alcohol addictions. About 100 youths go through the program each year, with more than one-third from Sussex County, according to Chief Executive Officer Phil Horowitz.

While in the program, which lasts 14 to 28 days, teens participate in group counseling, family therapy, 12-step support, family education, recreational activities, medical detoxification, psychological evaluation and academic tutoring.

The program also uses art therapy to help teens who have difficulty with expression cope with the recovery process, said Smith, a board-certified art therapist.

“Sometimes you need to look at something you’re feeling internally on the outside of yourself,” she said.

Art therapy also promotes group cohesion, Horowitz said.

“Part of the dynamics of adolescent substance abuse is peer pressure,” Horowitz said. “We take the synergy that leads to drug abuse and use the same power to pull them together for a positive end that’s inspiring to them.”

Colorful road signs made by the teens line the walls of the winding halls that lead to the group room.

A stop sign that stays “sobriety” and a “drug free zone” parking sign indicate the struggles the teens may face along the way.

“Recovery has to be fun for kids,” Smith said of the various art projects lining the walls.

The names of the teens who designed and created the mural were not released but the group, many of whom were admitted at the same time, is nearly finished with the program, Smith said. In fact, on Friday they were out burning letters they had written to their drugs of choice in a symbolic gesture that they were finished with their addiction, she said.

During a question-and-answer session the previous day, the teens were asked what they thought was the biggest misconception about recovery.

“That it’s easy,” was the reply.

For more information on Teen and Clean, the adolescent inpatient substance abuse unit at Sunrise House in Lafayette, call (973) 383-6300 or visit

Using the Arts to Tame Katrina’s Emotional Force

Using the Arts to Tame Katrina’s Emotional Force | Connect for Kids

Using the Arts to Tame Katrina’s Emotional Force

Published: June 12, 2006

by: Martha Pitts
[Final products of the Whole Schools/Dream Yard kite-building project take flight.] Final products of the Whole Schools/Dream Yard kite-building project take flight.

A high school sophomore in New Orleans takes a picture of the green mold covering the walls of her house and writes in her journal about the much-anticipated day she and her family can return home permanently.

A young boy from Pascagoula, Mississippi sits in an art center in Fairhope, Alabama during a “hurricane healing” workshop. He draws a picture of a face, colors it blue, and draws waves under the eyes.

And another young boy, one of many displaced children living in a trailer park in Baker, La. with their families, makes an ant out of pipe cleaners and tells a therapist the ant is scared of drowning.

In the nine months since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, many children have used art and other creative activities to express themselves and to cope with the traumatic events associated with the hurricane. The concept of art therapy rests on the idea that creative activities offer ways for children and young people to revisit a traumatic experience in ways that are healing. And in the aftermath of Katrina, there’s a whole cohort of kids who need ways to process terrible loss on a large scale.

Why Art Therapy?

“Because of its interdisciplinary qualities—art, psychology, child development, arts education—art therapy is uniquely positioned to assist children with trauma,” said Paige Asawa, therapist and co-author of the book A History of Art Therapy in the United States.

Asawa and several of her colleagues from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles have taken numerous trips to the Renaissance Village, a FEMA trailer park in Baker, La., to work with children displaced by Katrina.

And while Asawa has worked with both children and adults who’ve experienced different kinds of trauma—death in the family and witnessing violence, for example—she says the experience of Katrina was different.

“You can’t compare them,” Asawa said. “You’re talking about the displacement of hundreds of thousands of kids, and the trauma went for days, in some cases for weeks and months. Families were relocated and torn apart.”

Because the complexity of the disaster was incomprehensible to many of the children, art therapy has been especially beneficial, allowing the kids to express the inexpressible and to unlock hidden feelings.

Simply by re-telling a story, Asawa said, a child can be re-traumatized as he or she vividly remembers troubling events. However, if they have something else to do in the context of remembering—drawing, playing with clay, for example—they are less likely to become traumatized again.

Initially, Asawa and the other therapists provided art supplies to get the participants—ages 4 to 21—engaged in a creative activity. When they were ready to tell their stories, Asawa helped them do that through art.

“We sit with them, hear what they say, and take what they’re saying to a therapeutic level,” Asawa says. She explains that by asking questions about a piece, or encouraging the children to use a different art medium, the therapists help the children understand the emotions the artwork is expressing. Continued…