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Fresh Air Magazine

A Creative Catalyst

Patients discover the power of self-expression

Thomas Merton once said that art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

A new program at Rockcastle Regional is allowing patients to discover that power of self-expression and stress relief through art.

Activities assistant Hannah Ponder began the art journaling program, which allows patients to express themselves by filling the pages of blank sketchbooks with whatever their imagination conjures. Some of the sessions are unstructured. In others, she provides prompts. The idea is to allow for self-expression, an escape, and an outlet for creativity.

"It's something to have that's theirs, and that they have control over," Ponder said. Some may cut and paste images or words from old or new magazines. One patient made a "home" scrapbook, filled with items sent to him by his mom.

Linda Reed makes no bones about one of her favorite subjects: Elvis Presley. You can find photos of "the King" in many of her projects.

On a more serious note, Linda said the journaling helps lift her spirits when she's depressed. "I like to do it," she said. "I really enjoy it."

It's also an inclusive activity for those who might not have the dexterity to draw or cut out images -- the activities staff is there to help them fulfill their vision.

Ponder, who studied psychology and art therapy in college, says art therapy serves another important purpose as well. Knowing a patient well can help staff be more responsive and provide better social care.

"If you just ask patients questions about what they like, they may not tell you," she said. "Art journaling is like a catalyst to get them to share more.”

Respiratory Care Center

Fresh Air Magazine

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