Art and Art Therapy in Sylvia Brafman’s Residential Mental Health Community

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History of Art Therapy

Margaret Naumburg, who was a therapist and educator developed and defined art therapy back in the 1940’s. Well, at least she was regarded as one of the first to, and is actually referred to as the founder of art therapy.

Art therapy has been utilized on a wide range of populations. Those from very young children to the elderly. War veterans, to those incarcerated, as well as people with physical disabilities, and including those who suffer from mental illness and/or psychological disorders.

Science Behind Art Therapy

Art therapy is a unique treatment that doesn’t require talent or skill to get therapeutic results.

The American Art Therapy Association continues to define Art Therapy, as “facilitated by a professional art therapist, effectively supporting personal and relational treatment goals as well as community concerns. People use art therapy to improve sensory-motor and cognitive functions, improve self-esteem, raise self-awareness, create emotional resilience, build insight, improve social skills and reduce/resolve conflicts and distress.

One core theory is that different media of art activates different regions of the brain. Watercolor or clay will tap into the more emotional centers of the brain, which are less restrictive. More resistive media such as rulers, pencils, markers, and even building something 3D. That will potentially utilize more cognitive processes in the brain.

Another theory strongly believed is that a patient’s artwork has very symbolic meanings. These symbolic meanings reflect emotions often attached to memories that are difficult to express with words.

Art Therapy gives many techniques and projects to help meet anyone’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. It is believed that expressing oneself has a huge impact in healing and helps enable a person in doing so. Along with deepening their senses of self-awareness and having more meaning in their life.

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Art Work Groups at Sylvia Brafman’s Residential Community

Sylvia Brafman takes pride in our patient’s meaningful work projects!

Five days a week, residents will meet in the art studio to learn how to craft a variety of wearables that are sold in local shops.

Skills developing to be increased and developed are creative problem solving, over-all skill building, group engagement, time management, risk taking, direction-following, project completion.

Some of our workshop medium projects we work with or create can be self-care based products, woodworking skills, fiber arts, and even pottery. They all are skills that can be taught and many of these skills can come together to create some amazing products!

Art Therapy at Sylvia Brafman’s Residential Community

In Art Therapy groups and individualized sessions, residents can really get involved in their personal healing journey. They can take the time to explore, work through, and really deepen their insights through several different mediums of art.

Art Therapy sessions are about expressing oneself. Not focusing on technical skills or ability. It’s not about being judgemental or critical, but just allowing emotions to flow and going with the process of creation itself, undisturbed.

Several residents choose to create a series of art pieces based on their surrounding experiences while in treatment. These collections of works have been proudly displayed in Sylvia Brafman’s dining room gallery.

We enjoy having the residents the opportunity to share their creative process as it relates to their healing process and journey. It has provided the residents confidence building, along with critical thinking skills, establishing and building boundaries, and also opening up their vulnerability in taking the risk to share their intimate works with others. It is also very inspiring to our staff to see their healing process and journeys as well in their recovery through their art.

The Range of Art and Art Therapy at Sylvia Brafman Community

We have a strong commitment to the community as well as the wider art community. Four times per year, visiting artists from throughout the Cleveland and northeast Ohio locations come to stay for several days on the farm. They provide workshops based on the artist’s medium.

Printmakers, ceramicists, mixed media artists, metalsmiths, illustrators, and photographers have taken part in this amazing program! It has greatly offered the Sylvia Brafman community a chance to connect with a larger sect of the creative world. Which we find very rewarding and exciting.

Our visiting artist program is designed to help foster and encourage an alliance between the creative arts community and wellness. The talented artists who participate in this program value the connection that is between mental health and artistic expression. They also have a deep interest in exploring this intersection through instruction, collaboration, and intrinsic community engagement.

Artists know that many artists have struggled from mental illnesses. Even artwork we greatly admire, from the past. An artist, Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), suffered from anxiety, and depression, and it’s been mentioned bipolar as well. Edvard Munch (1863-1944), another artist painter, suffered from anxiety and hallucinations.

There are other artists out there in other mediums who suffer from other mental illnesses as well. Even modern-day artists as well.

An example of other modern-day artists, Yayoi Kusama, the pioneer of Pop Art, which she coined later as, “Psychosomatic Art.” She suffers from psychological distress, panic attacks, visual and audible hallucinations, including suicide attempts.

Yayoi Kusama’s first work to achieve international success, “Infinity nets,” were created out of experiencing several nervous breakdowns out of symptoms from mental illness originating from childhood that she had avoided. Though regardless it was a sign of her continuing power to overcome it nevertheless through art.

Through our Art Programs, here at Sylvia Brafman, residents can connect even more. They can find creative and innovative approaches to healing and recovery.

Our educated Art Therapists utilize many different mediums including painting, drawings, mixed media, fiber arts, ceramics, drawing, photography, woodworking, recycled materials, and natural elements, to help encourage in keeping one’s curiosity constantly flowing.

We believe each and every person is an artist! Engaging a person in the creative process truly provides a great enriching, valuable experience on their path to overall wellness.

Contact us today, here at Sylvia Brafman to find out more information on our Art Therapy Programs and recovery services. We look forward to speaking with you!

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