Family counsel: art therapy
There is considerable evidence that involving a
violent or emotionally disturbed adult or child in any creative activity
can help in ways that traditional education, incarceration and/or talk
therapy could never achieve. According to John Klofas, a criminal
justice professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, violence
often is a result of poor communication skills. For people who cannot
operate well from the left side of the brain — the site of our verbal
skills — it is possible to develop social skills by engaging the right
brain in creative activities. Activities such as making music or art,
dancing, athletics, cooking and gardening have demonstrable behavioral,
cognitive, emotional and psychological benefits.
Creativity allows access to a deeper level of
consciousness, making it possible to address problems that may be
inexpressible in words. Thus, creative activities can be helpful for
people who choose not to talk, who talk compulsively without saying
anything, who sustained emotional or physical abuse at an age before
they had words to describe how they felt or who just are working through
a particular life issue. This is the basis for art therapy.
As Kristin A. Rapp puts it, "Expression is the
opposite of depression."
Rapp, executive director of ArtPeace Inc.
(http://artpeace.org/), has a master's degree in social work from
Syracuse University and one in graphic design from RIT. She discovered
during years of working with people who are developmentally disabled,
chemically dependent or in the court system that she could be far more
effective when engaging her clients in creative activities they enjoy.
That discovery led her to found ArtPeace (which stands
for Arts, Recreation and Technology Promoting Education and Creative
Expression). The organization offers art therapy for individuals and
groups, promotes creative community projects for young people and
arranges for at-risk youth to learn about arts and technology.
Dr. Margot Fass is a psychiatrist in private
25 May 2006