Art Therapy And The Disabled Essay, Research Paper
Art Therapy and the Disabled
In chapter twenty-one of the course textbook, the reader is presented with the case of Mrs. Day. Day was in an auto accident and it was necessary to amputate one of her feet. The chapter tells of Day’s progress through art therapy and the issues that had to be overcome in order for Mrs. Day to come to terms with her treatment. Outside research has shown that art therapy is useful in the eyes of the patient with a disability.
The text speaks of the patient as a depressed thirty-five year old woman who after the accident refused to speak of the ordeal with staff or family. The goals of the therapy, as stated in Landgarten are:
“Art therapy goals and treatment in rehabilitation encompass
the following: gain a rapid transference; work on denial as a
defense by having the patient concretize her disability; expression
of rage and impotence; reveal guilt or punishment fantasies;
clarify the prognosis; work through perceptual inaccuracies,
mastery and catharsis; acknowledge former strengths; activate
motivation for recovery; regain some sense of identity; increase
self esteem, accept limitations along with new body image; delineate
new modes of adaptation; deal with discharge anxiety; rehearsal for termination and home reentry.” (Landgarten, 348)
Through the therapy, Mrs. Day seemed to come to terms with her amputation and was able to express things that bothered her. In two articles “Creating Art: Your RX for Health” and “Group-oriented community-based expressive arts programming for individuals with disabilities: participant satisfaction and perceptions of psycho-social impact.” The reader is told about patients who have disabilities or have suffered losses and how art therapy or even just creating art has been very therapeutic for them.
Take for example the case of Randy Souders of Ft. Worth, Texas. Souders, had always liked painting before he had an accident at age seventeen which left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. When he was in the hospital his physical therapist strapped a paintbrush to his hand and insisted he try. Souders says that to his “great shock and surprise the painting turned out much better than I could have dreamed.” He felt a new sense of self worth and has since turned art into a career. (Longman, 69) Helen Kossoff, another disabled person who has turned to art says, “Art is a way of spending time,. Not to be sitting around too much and thinking about yourself. You think of other people. I draw other people when I think of them”. (70)
At the University of South Florida School of medicine, Dr. Lois LaCivita Nixon is offering an elective art course for medical students. She shows students such artwork as Guernica by Picasso and asks them to find the underlying meanings. She also shows them works by Munch, Kahlo, Rembrandt, and others. Kahlo for example had an accident and portrayed her suffering in her art, she also had several miscarriages and included references to being without children in her works. (72)
Today the therapeutic value of the arts is being recognized to a broader extent. Art activity centers have now been established in many hospital pediatric programs. These centers encourage children who have experienced trauma, disease, or disability to express the many emotions experienced in these situations through creative, often non-verbal experiences. These art approaches offer a supportive, non- confrontational, activity-centered treatment that fosters personal expression and serves as an alternative or catalyst to verbal therapy. (Lynch) ‘Where exactly can creative arts fit into rehabilitation? If the relationship between creative activity and inner well-being is to be understood, and if the creative arts are to gain acceptance in mainstream rehabilitation, art must first be viewed as a process rather than as a product” (Lynch)
As evidenced above, the creation of art is a therapeutic process. Whether it is an amputee or a paralysis victim. Art can be a great method of expressing ones feelings. Art therapy is receiving new attention from the world of medicine, as exemplified by the course taught by Dr. LaCivitia-Nixon.