Letter from the Editor — the healing power of art

Letter from the Editor — the healing power of art

Several years ago, I volunteered at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen on Conner Street in Detroit.  I volunteered with their art therapy program. I worked with elementary school students – most of whom had very difficult family situations.  Sister Nancyann led the program.  She would discuss the day’s project, and then the volunteers would work with the students.  I eventually began to work with one student in particular during each weekly session.

My student was quiet.  But he loved to complete each project. 

At one point, Sister Nancyann decorated the main eating area (which was the main area in the building) with all of the students’ work.  The students’ parents, grandparents, or other guardians came and were treated to a light dinner and a small celebration for the students.  My student’s grandmother sought me out. 

She told me how my little guy went from being quiet and depressed to energetic and hopeful.  He spoke often of our time together. The Capuchin’s art program broke down certain barriers and allowed this kid to be a kid.  It allowed him to take joy in the everyday.  Yet the art projects accomplished this goal quietly.  Even I was unaware.

Art therapy is a theraputic use of the art making process to . . . . Art therapy is a process where trained therapists use a psychotherapy process to …. Art therapy is where a mental health professional deciphers artwork to delve ….

Art therapy is difficult to define.  I believe it captures some of the energy and importance highlighted last week in our focus on art education, yet it takes the scientific processes a step farther.  I believe it works, because I’ve seen it work with my own eyes.  So this week we will compile as much information about art therapy as we can to better define art therapy so that we can better know its uses and successes.