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Healing Through Art

“Art Therapy” has become the new buzzword to throw around and for good reason. Art, in all its forms, has the ability to lessen the sting of trauma through storytelling, create connections with community members dealing with similar mental health disparities, and contribute to strategic healing when paired with the support of licensed mental health professionals. But what IS Art Therapy?

The American Art Therapy Association defines it as “an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art-making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.” This tool for personal and relational healing goals can be leveraged as a creative intervention for our veteran, justice-involved, and LGBTQIA populations, among many other applications. In Baton Rouge, many organizations are dipping their toes into the important work of transforming mental health outcomes through primarily visual arts.

Art therapy as a professional practice requires a master's degree and hours of practicum experience in the creative process, clinical internship, and studio art pedagogy. While the industry is still budding in Louisiana, there are many community organizations that are leveraging art therapy themes and practices to better support the socio-cultural needs of our neighbors.

Here in the capital region, art therapy takes many forms in personal and public practice. Read below about a few licensed practitioners and lay organizations utilizing art therapy to heal the Red Stick one creative engagement at a time.

Tiffanie Brumfield, MA, ATR-BC, Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health

Jefferson Oaks is an accredited program that provides a direct service to those who suffer from a variety of mental health issues. Their goal is to provide patients with the structure and necessary tools for stabilization and continued personal growth. Jefferson Oaks believes that each patient can achieve a more productive and enjoyable life. Their programs are designed with flexibility so that each patient is given a customized treatment plan to meet his/her specific area of need. Treatment approaches combine several therapeutic techniques including experiential work, didactic and psychotherapeutic. Treatment groups address the following areas of need: Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Substance Abuse, Bi-Polar, Grief/Loss, Mood Disorder, Self Esteem, Somatic Disorders, Eating Disorders, and Addictions.

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, Healing Arts Installation

The therapeutic potential of visual art to stimulate healing is well documented in research, and the elements of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center's Healing Arts program provide relief from the anxiety and pain of illness, offering inspiration to courageous patients and their loved ones. The artwork displayed throughout the Cancer Center was created by regional artists and is designed to present beauty for patients and other guests. Healing Arts also complements our comprehensive treatment programs and includes a patient component where survivors participate in art projects to promote healing and well-being.

Chelsea Borruano, You Are Not Alone Project

The You Aren’t Alone Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to forming a network of ongoing support for mental health and wellness in Baton Rouge and beyond so that no one ever has to feel alone. The project exists to encourage understanding, erase stigmas, and invest in building the right relationships that will continue moving this initiative forward.

Baton Rouge General, Arts in Medicine” Program

Arts in Medicine brings creative activities to patients through media such as painting, drawing, arts and crafts, and music in a format that inspires hope and promotes healing. Studies have shown that patients who participate in Arts in Medicine benefit emotionally and physically during their treatment. Painting or drawing provides a creative outlet for patients to express themselves and explore their creative sides and music, reduces stress and lifts spirits. These activities provide a much-needed distraction from health-related worry and anxiety.

Daffaney Jenkins-Webster, Reflection of the Green Leaf- Prison Art Therapy Program

Reflection of the Green Leaf is the brainchild of Daffaney Jenkins Webster, in collaboration with NAMI Louisiana and Janice Bonner-Davis. Made up of an organized team of advocacies, the mission is to develop resources and enrichment opportunities for those that are mentally ill.

Reflection of the Green Leaf tells the story of a vision of life, despair, sorrow, desires, and hopefulness, encapsulated in the divided hemispheres of one that poses two words…. Mentally Ill.

National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) “The Mind’s Eye Exhibition”

NAMI is a grassroots organization of families who come together for mutual support to learn and publicize accurate information about mental illness, to advocate for their loved ones, and to change and improve the mental health system so that quality services will be available for all persons who have a severe mental illness.

The Mind’s Eye is presented by NAMI Baton Rouge in order to raise public awareness, provide education about mental illness, and create an opportunity for artists to showcase their work. The exhibition will be celebrated with a formal reception that is intended to raise funds to support the work of NAMI Baton Rouge.

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