Category Archives: USA

Using Crayons to Exorcise Katrina

September 17, 2007

Art Therapy – New York Times

Trinity Williams, a child displaced by Hurricane Katrina, works with Karla Leopold, an art therapist, above. At right, other work by children at a FEMA trailer park in Baker, La., shows that the trauma of the hurricane has influenced thoughts of home and safety.

BAKER, La., Sept. 16 — One of the most common images in children’s art is the house: a square, topped by a pointy roof, outfitted with doors and windows.

So Karla Leopold, an art therapist from California, was intrigued when she noticed that for many of the young victims of Hurricane Katrina, the house had morphed into a triangle.

“At first we thought it was a fluke, but we saw it repeatedly in children of all ages,” said Ms. Leopold, who with a team of therapists has made nine visits to Renaissance Village here, the largest trailer park for Katrina evacuees, to work with children. “Then we realized the internal schema of these children had changed. They weren’t drawing the house as a place of safety, they were drawing the roof.”

Countless articles and at least five major studies have focused on the lasting trauma experienced by Hurricane Katrina survivors, warning of anxiety, difficulty in school, even suicidal impulses. But few things illustrate the impact as effectively as the art that has come out of sessions under the large white tent that is the only community gathering spot at Renaissance Village, a gravel-covered former cow pasture with high truancy rates and little to occupy youngsters who do not know when, or if, they will return home. Even now the children’s drawings are populated by alligators, dead birds, helicopters and rescue boats. At a session in May one 8-year-old, Brittney Barbarin, drew a swimming pool full of squiggly black lines. Asked who was in the pool, she replied, “Snakes.”The drawings, photographs and sculptures, about 50 of which went on display Sunday at the New Orleans Museum of Art, are a good indicator of how children are coping, said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the co-founder of the Children’s Health Fund, which has provided mobile mental health clinics to some families along the Gulf Coast. The art also shows that the trauma did not end with the hurricane.
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Art Therapy with Family Caregivers of Patients with Cancer

Art Therapy with Family Caregivers of Patients with Cancer
Kentucky Nurse – Find Articles

Art Therapy with Family Caregivers of Patients with Cancer

Kentucky Nurse, Oct-Dec 2005
by Fugate, Jessica

Patients and their caregivers experience a significant amount of stress and anxiety related to their hospitalization. Art therapy has been one suggestion for reducing anxiety and stress. Nurses possess valuable knowledge of patients’ and families’ needs and are in an ideal position to implement art therapy.

Decreased anxiety and stress for patients and caregivers will result in better outcomes for the patient and may increase the effectiveness of other interventions administered by the nurse. The focus of this paper was to analyze Walsh, Martin, and Schmidt’s (2004) research study on art therapy for research utilization potential. The purpose of a group utilization project is to educate nurses about the effectiveness of art therapy on decreasing anxiety and stress, and ways to help establish creative arts programs.

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Art Therapy and Anxiety: Healing Through Imagery training (training)

Art Therapy and Anxiety: Healing Through Imagery training seminar by Cross Country

Art Therapy and Anxiety: Healing Through Imagery by Cross Country Education on See similar training.. Find and register for other training seminars by Cross Country Education on Other seminars from Cross Country Education


More seminars by Cross Country Education Cross Country Education


Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, Licensed Professional Counselors, Psychiatric Nurses, School Guidance Counselors, Pastoral Counselors, Pediatricians, Physicians, Juvenile Guidance Counselors, Youth Pastors, Youth Workers



Seminar Summary:

An important one-day seminar for Mental Health Professionals, Educators, and anyone working with youth (see full course description)

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Art Therapy NYU

Brand new… Art therapy students in New York are using blogs to get the word out and support their emerging professional needs as art therapy professionals.

Art Therapy NYU

Art Therapy NYU This web page was created to host information about Art Therapy for NYU graduate students.

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Art therapy helps traumatized children

Art therapy helps traumatized children
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Los Angeles students who have been
traumatized because of gang violence are being helped to gain their
emotional balance through art therapy.

Suzanne Silverstein, a registered art therapist, says art therapy
is one element of the “Share and Care Program” that serves 11 Los
Angeles unified schools. Group discussion is also used to address
emotional anxieties. The program’s main goal is to give children a
place to go to express their fears and anxieties, freeing them to learn
in the classroom.

Share and Care is a service of the Psychological Trauma Center, a
non-profit organization that meets mental-health needs of traumatized
elementary school students in disadvantaged areas.

“Psychological trauma of any kind affects a child’s ability to
concentrate and learn,” said Silverstein, president and co-founder of
the Psychological Trauma Center.

“By helping children begin to cope with the violence, fear and
sadness that are all too prevalent in their homes and neighborhoods, we
hope to improve their quality of life and help them achieve their
highest learning potential. We also hope to help break the cycle of
violence as students learn healthy forms of expression and avoid
striking back with more acts of violence.”

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Art therapy helps kids deal with cancer fears

Art therapy helps kids deal with cancer fears : Local News : Anderson Independent Mail

Art therapy helps kids deal with cancer fears

Ten-year-old Mitch Mitchell spent time Saturday with other children who were dealing with the same types of issues — family members who battled or are battling cancer.

Mitch’s mother, Mikal Fletcher Mitchell, is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2004 and finished her treatment in March 2005.

“I can see some of my friends that come here,” he said about the group that meets at the Cancer Association of Anderson office.

“I can express my feelings instead of just holding them in.”

Mitch said he likes talking to other children his age about what he went through. He said it’s better for him to talk about it than keep it balled up inside.

The group, Kaleidoscope Kidscape, which stands for Kids Sharing Creativity and Positive Experiences, is a free healing arts workshop series for children 5 to 12 and meets once a month. It’s led by Heather Kline Schaffer, who is a licensed professional counselor and a South Carolina artist.

Children who attended the workshops that have been offered for about three years can attend for as long as or as short a time as they want. All participants must pre-register as they are prescreened for the group to determine how they are currently coping.

Ms. Schaffer said the group discusses what it means to be diagnosed with cancer, what everyone is going through and ways to deal with their feelings.

“For these children it’s a time to process feelings, an opportunity to bond with others going through similar experiences and learn healthy coping skills,” she said.

The group also does an art project.

“We do an activity because it personalizes the experience and clinical studies have demonstrated healing arts projects reestablish a balancing of the emotions,” Ms. Schaffer said.

One of the first things the attendees did Saturday was make a list of their favorite things — things they can do to help themselves feel better. Dena Rhinehart, 13, of Anderson listed playing soccer, listening to music, hanging out with friends and going to church.

Dena, whose mother has breast cancer, said she enjoyed her first time attending a Kaleidoscope Kidscape workshop.

“It takes your mind off of things,” she said. “You can get it out.”

After making a list, participants turned colorful yarn into spheres they could use to comfort themselves by simply holding them or tossing them to another participant across the room.

By the end participants created several spheres, some of which they took home and some they shared with each other.

During other sessions, children have made collage and clay masks, scrapbooks, journals and kaleidoscopes.

Ms. Mitchell said she could tell her son benefited from attending the workshops.

“It’s sort of an outlet to be in a group where you don’t feel like you’re the only one going through it,” she said. “It gave him something to look forward to.”


Healing through the creation of art

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The Times Plus, Monroe Times, Monroe, Wisconsin, USA

Healing through the creation of art

Published Monday, January 22, 2007 10:17:33 AM Central Time

By Ellen Williams-Masson

MONROE — Jennifer Edge believes in the power of art. Jennifer Edge of the Primitive Soul Art Studio guides a home-school class of art students as they select images for an “I have a dream” collage in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Pictured, from left, are John Keizer, Vincent Carus, Calli Vestin and Spencer Vestin.
Times photo: Ellen Williams-Masson

Creating art can help reshape life experiences that may be too painful for words, providing an outlet for emotions that may be therapeutic in the hands of an experienced art therapist.

“Sometimes clients aren’t able to talk about what has happened to them, or maybe they have retold and retold their stories, but when you bring in the art something different happens, something can change,” Edge said.

Edge is an art therapist at the Primitive Soul Art Studio in Monroe.

“When we put those experiences into art, we can process them and get them out. We can put our anger into the art; we can break things and then make something new out of it. It’s almost like a mirror they can look into Š and sometimes there’s a moment of ‘aha.'”

Edge has a master’s degree in art therapy and is an outpatient and in-home art therapist for Oregon Mental Health Services. Edge also works as a teen specialist for the Parental Stress Center in Madison, which offers peer support to parents and families under stress.

Through serving as the Parent Stressline coordinator, Edge helps maintain a free and confidential resource for parents experiencing stress.

The third hat Edge wears is as owner of the Primitive Soul Art Studio, where she offers traditional art classes as well as individual and group art therapy. She said that it was important for her to make the studio a welcoming place for everyone, and having a mixture of traditional art classes with professional art therapy sessions helps protect client privacy.

“I wanted to make it a place where there’s no stigma about walking through the door,”

Edge said. “No one knows why anyone is coming in here. In a small community it’s really important that we have confidentiality.”

Edge will be presenting a talk, “In search of the primitive soul,” at the Monroe Arts Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25. After using case studies to illustrate how art therapy can be used to complement other therapy methods, Edge will help attendees find their “primitive soul” through a 30-minute art making session.

“I define a primitive soul as a being that expresses whatever they feel, however they feel, through art, without holding back, without inhibitions,” Edge said. “A primitive soul creates because of their instinctual call to create.”

Edge said that people are born into the world with a primitive desire to create, but that innate passion can be lost as people become more inhibited about expressing themselves through art.

“As an art therapist, I believe it is my calling to help individuals uncover their primitive soul, finding the artist within and helping the individual bring their creative soul out into the world,” she said.

Edge lives in Oregon but decided to open the art studio in Monroe because she identified a need in the area. Through open studio times for families and a large home-school program during the day, she is reaching out to an increasing number of people in the community.

Her studio pioneered the Shakespeare Project, a drama workshop for youth that compares our modern culture with characters and topics in the works of William Shakespeare to combat themes of abuse and violence.

This year’s program will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays from March 8 until May 31, culminating in a performance by the kids at the Monroe Arts Center in May.

Participants will have the opportunity to work with actors from the American Players Theater on Friday, April 6 as well as attend a performance at the theater in Spring Green in June.

The Shakespeare Project has been supported by the Wisconsin Arts Board since its inception in 2005 and is open to children ages 10 to 18 years old. Applications are due by March 1 and more information is available at the Primitive Soul Art Studio, 325-5268, or at


When Art Imitates Pain, It Can Help Heal,

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
By ABEER ALLAM 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 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.

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Art therapy can reduce pain and anxiety in cancer patients (press release)

Art therapy can reduce pain and anxiety in cancer patients
(press release)

Friday, August 25, 2006 by: NewsTarget

Key concepts: cancer, cancer patients and anxiety.

A study published today in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that art therapy can reduce a broad spectrum of symptoms related to pain and anxiety in cancer patients. In the study done at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, cancer patients reported significant reductions in eight of nine symptoms measured by the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) after spending an hour working on art projects of their choice.

Fifty patients from the inpatient oncology unit at Northwestern Memorial were enrolled in the study over a four-month period. The ESAS is a numeric scale allowing patients to assess their symptoms of pain, tiredness, nausea, depression, anxiety, drowsiness, lack of appetite, well-being and shortness of breath. Eight of these nine symptoms improved; nausea was the only symptom that did not change as a result of the art therapy session. “Cancer patients are increasingly turning to alternative and complementary therapies to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and boost their ability to cope with stress,” says Judith Paice, PhD, RN, director, Cancer Pain Program, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and an author on the study. “We wanted to see if the creative process involved in making art is healing and life-enhancing.

Our study provides beginning evidence for the important role art therapy can play in reducing symptoms. Art therapy provides a distraction that allows patients to focus on something positive instead of their health for a time, and it also gives patients something they can control.” Each art therapy session was individualized and patients were offered a choice of subject matter and media. When participants could not use their hands or were not comfortable using the art materials, the art therapist would do the art making under the direction of the subject or they could look at and discuss photographic images that were assembled into a book.

Sessions ranged from light entertaining distraction to investigating deep psychological issues, says Nancy Nainis, MA, ATR, an art therapist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, who is the lead author on the study. “We were especially surprised to find the reduction in ‘tiredness’,” says Ms. Nainis. “Several subjects made anecdotal comments that the art therapy had energized them. This is the first study to document a reduction in tiredness as a result of art therapy.” “Art provides a vehicle for expression,” says Dr. Paice. “It may be preferential to some cancer patients who may be uncomfortable with conventional psychotherapy or those who find verbal expression difficult.”


Born in a dancer’s therapy

January 9, 1998



Art rarely strays far from life, from the feelings and character of the person who makes it. But sometimes it sticks so close to individual experience as to become a virtual shadow, different in substance but identical in outline.

This is the case with Marilee Stiles Stern, a 47-year-old American who lives in Seattle and is having her first solo show at the Phyllis Kind Gallery in SoHo. Well-known as a ballet dancer (she was discovered by George Balanchine), ballet teacher and choreographer, Ms. Stern turned to art as an aid in her psychotherapy, which followed a diagnosis in 1989 of dissociative identity disorder, as multiple-personality disorder is now called.

A few years later Ms. Stern became aware of the phenomenon of outsider or self-taught artists when her therapist showed her an issue of Raw Vision, an art magazine devoted to the subject, and she started acquiring back issues. Drawn to the art reproduced in the Kind Gallery’s ads in Raw Vision, Ms. Stern got in touch with Ms. Kind last February, asking the dealer to look at her work. In May Ms. Kind made a detour to Seattle on a trip to the West Coast and saw Ms. Stern’s work. A result is this exhibition of fantastical drawings in red, black and yellow felt-tip markers that Ms. Stern made on graph paper between 1989 and 1991. They depict swirling, cursive figures and figures-within-figures trapped inside intricately patterned backgrounds. They are almost as beautiful as they are harrowing.

Full of semi-abstract phalluses extravagantly rendered and repeated in ways that start out decorative and soon become startlingly explicit, these drawings seem to diagram encounters of a violent and sexual nature. Bound hands are a repeating motif, as are splayed bodies and stylized faces that can seem either dazed or screaming. Imbedded letters occasionally spell out words: ”Kill” or ”Please help me.” Rarely has violation been made so visually mesmerizing.


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