Category Archives: Therapy

Art of Eileen

Crowdfunding helps artist bring creativity to aged care

101-year-old dancer, choreographer, costume designer, author, sculptor and illustrator Eileen Kramer has offered her talents to a project that aims to raise funds for art in aged care.
For the project, Art of Eileen, Kramer worked with fashion designer Brigid McLaughlin to create a range of scarves, using her own designs and McLaughlin’s ethical and environmentally sound practices.
Funds raised through the sale of the scarves will be used by Arts Health Institute (AHI) to train visual artists to deliver its program, Access to Express, in aged-care facilities.
Access to Express aims to increase quality of life for older Australians through artistic expression and cultural experiences, engaging residents in drawing, painting, sculpture and art appreciation.
Dr Maggie Haertsch, chief executive of AHI, said the campaign’s $12,000 target would allow the institute to train and employ about 20 artists to provide art-making experiences in health and aged-care settings.

Read full article here



Healing with Art

Healing aging with arts

Using the Arts to Promote Healthy Aging

Two summers ago, a remarkable documentary called “Alive Inside” showed how much music can do for the most vulnerable older Americans, especially those whose memories and personalities are dimmed by dementia.

The Music and Memory project that provided the iPods was the inspiration of a volunteer music lover named Dan Cohen, and has since spread to many nursing homes and facilities for the aged around the country. Alas, not nearly enough of them. Medicaid, which fully covers the cost of potent drugs that can turn old people into virtual zombies, has no policy that would pay for far less expensive music players. So the vast majority of nursing home residents who might benefit are deprived of this joyous experience.

Nonetheless, across the country, the arts in their myriad forms are enhancing the lives and health of older people — and not just those with dementia— helping to keep many men and women out of nursing homes and living independently. With grants from organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Institute on Aging, incredibly dedicated individuals with backgrounds in the arts have established programs that utilize activities as diverse as music, dance, painting, quilting, singing, poetry writing and storytelling to add meaning, joy and a vibrant sense of well-being to the lives of older people.

Walter Hurlburt, 90, decorates rooms at the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a retirement facility where he lives.
Walter Hurlburt, 90, decorates rooms at the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a retirement facility where he lives.Credit
Through a program called EngAGE in Southern California, 90-year-old Walter Hurlburt, who once made a living as a sign painter, now decorates rooms at the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a retirement facility where he lives, with lovely oil paintings he creates from pictures he finds in magazines and books. Mr. Hurlburt regularly attends classes on various art forms at the residence where, he told me, “I’m always learning something new.”

His buddy at the residence, Sally Connors, an 82-year-old former schoolteacher, surprised herself by writing and directing a screenplay that was performed by fellow residents. Then, with Dolly Brittan, 79, a former early childhood educator, they both surprised themselves by writing their life stories in rap and performing their rap memoirs on a stage for at-risk teenagers they were mentoring.

Both she and Ms. Connors said their newfound involvement with the arts has made them feel decades younger.

Read more here

Walter Hurlburt, 90, decorates rooms at the Burbank Senior Artists Colony, a retirement facility where he lives.

The creative process

Consistent with research I did with fellow PT blogger Scott Barry Kaufman, Fiore illustrates that if it takes ten years or so to make a professional contribution to a field, it takes about ten more years to make a truly outstanding mark.

What does this mean? It takes time to become an “expert” in a field and even longer to reach a level of “greatness.” It’s okay to not be a superstar yet.


In a brief speech, he articulated nearly everything I know about how to encourage creativity:

When I was nine and I asked my dad, “Can I have your movie camera? That old, wind-up 8 millimeter camera that was in your drawer?” And he goes, “Sure, take it.” And I took it and I started making movies with it and I started being as creative as I could, and never once in my life did my parents ever say, “What you’re doing is a waste of time.” Never. And I grew up, I had teachers, I had colleagues, I had people that I worked with all through my life who always told me what you’re doing is not a waste of time. So that was normal to me that it was OK to do that. I know there are kids out there that don’t have that support system so if you’re out there and you’re listening, listen to me: If you want to be creative, get out there and do it. It’s not a waste of time. Do it. OK? Thank you.

Yes! How do we nurture creativity? We allow mini-c (the initial creativity inherent in the learning process) flourish. We allow an environment to be psychologically “safe” from judgment and discouragement. We encourage people to pursue what they love.


High sensitivity

… from “Les Miserables”: “Those who do not weep, do not see.”

This trait of high sensitivity nurtures our creativity and social activism, but also brings challenges.

Psychologist Elaine Aron and others describe it as a more finely tuned nervous system.

She explains,

“It means you are aware of subtleties in your surroundings, a great advantage in many situations. It also means you are more easily overwhelmed…”

How does being a highly sensitive person impact our feelings and our lives?


Mental illness +Creativity

“High creative skills have been shown to be somewhat more common in people who have mental illness in the family.

“Creativity is also linked to a slightly higher risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Certain psychological traits, such as the ability to make unusual or bizarre associations are also shared by schizophrenics and healthy, highly creative people.”

Research provides more neuroscientific explanation for the potential links between mental health and mental illness to creativity.

Continued in article Creativity linked

Refugee Therapy

Using art to help Syrian refugee children cope with trauma
Many of the Syrian refugee children coming to Germany are traumatized by what they have experienced in the war-torn country. Kurdish artist Hassan Deveci has opened his Cologne studio to help them deal with their trauma.

Bombings, destroyed houses, camouflaged helicopters – many of the refugee children’s paintings shown in a Cologne studio depict those scenes because that’s what the kids remember all too well from living in, or fleeing from, war-torn Syria.

Thirteen-year-old Avjin pointed to her painting of a girl lying on a surgical table. “Her heart is bleeding, she doesn’t feel well,” she said.

Another young girl painted how bombs are falling onto a red brick house. “Helicopters came to destroy my school,” she told DW. “Some of the children survived, but some of them didn’t.”

In the Studio of Hassan Deveci in Cologne (photo: Hassan Deveci)

Deveci, 43, said he can understand the uncertainty that comes from being a refugee in a foreign land. He fled Turkey in the mid-90s because of political oppression of the Kurdish minority there. He applied for asylum in Cologne in 1994 and had to wait more than three years later, after staying at a makeshift camp, a hotel and a shared flat with two other refugees, until he was ultimately granted asylum. His memories of those years are grim.



The kids have undergone quite a transformation over the past year, Deveci said. “At the start, two kids hat real problems with concentration and the German language, but this changed after six months. They became much more open and self-confident,” he said.
Such private initiatives, however, cannot be sustained forever, Deveci added. He had to reduce the number of days children can come into the studio from weekly to once or twice a month because he ran out of material and money. He said he is just one of many people doing volunteer-work for refugees in Cologne.

making art is the new meditation

Many of us have heard about the benefits of meditation, but sometimes find it hard to do. Fewer of us know about the profound benefits of artistic expression. Creating art, however, is another way to access a meditative state of mind and the profound healing it brings.

“Art is a guarantee to sanity,” said Louise Bourgeois, a French-American artist who died in 2010 at the age of 98. She even went on to add, “…This is the most important thing I have said.” For Bourgeois, art — making art — was a tool for coping with overwhelming emotion. She says she remembers making small sculptures out of bread crumbs at the dinner table when she was a little girl – as a way of dealing with her dominating father. Art was more than an escape – it kept her sane.

Art, like meditation, allows us to create space between our often negative, anxious thoughts and connect with our true selves – as opposed to with the fleeting or false sense of identity we sometimes have when we are caught up in our thoughts and emotions. Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher, writes: “Identification with thoughts and the emotions that go with those thoughts creates a false mind-made sense of self, conditioned by the past… This false self is never happy or fulfilled for long. Its normal state is one of unease, fear, insufficiency, and non-fulfillment.” Creating art is about reaching a state of consciousness and breaking free from the constant debilitating chatter of the mind.

Full article -The Washington Post




Acting + Therapy

Emily Blunt on fate and stammering and acting

Emily BluntIn her varied roles, Emily Blunt is often a strong presence, intriguing for her complex emotions and intelligence – sometimes not quite expressed, but showing in her eyes.

With her movie The Adjustment Bureau so much about fate, it is interesting to read some of her perspectives on what she was like earlier in her life, and what led her into acting.

“My head was occupied all the time. I was confused about what I wanted to do or who I was; I didn’t really feel I had an identity growing up.”

The inner actor – full article

Emily Blunt

Psychology of colours

Despite all this, there are some generally recognized associations between color and emotion. The chart below gives those associations and ways in which that color is used.

Red increases the pulse and heart rate, and raises your blood pressure. It increases the appetite by increasing your metabolism, which is why red is such a popular color in restaurants. It is active, aggressive and outspoken. One bank found that their lines moved faster when they increased the use of red in the bank lobby, and in a study of several hundred college students, a researcher found that they responded more quickly to cues under red light than under green light.


The Psychology of Color

Secret Garden Doodling@Large!

Johanna Basford spent her summer and winter holidays at Brodick Castle on the Isle of Arran, where her grandfather was the head gardener. Her magical book Secret Garden contains pen-and-ink illustrations of flowers, insects, birds and small animals. All it needs to come to life is a bit of spare time and some coloured pens or pencils.

Download and print out for your children or just for yourself – it’s terribly therapeutic …

Downloadables and article here Gardian


Painting and no-Stress

Once a month between 30 and 40 Yale workers, ranging from postdocs at the School of Medicine to IT techs to administrative assistants, spend their lunch hour painting at an art studio on Chapel Street. The program, sponsored by Being Well at Yale, is designed to ease the stress of the workplace.

Reaction has been very positive, said Kimmel, citing comments from surveys of participants since the program began.

“I probably wouldn’t have done it on my own and now I found a new way to remove stress,” wrote one painter.

“Wonderful program—meeting and laughing with others,” wrote another.

“Lunch time painting break is awesome!! I can relax myself with friends, and try something different!!” wrote still another.

Full article


full article



“Brad Pitt once commented, “We are treated as special. We get away with things that other people can’t. And you start to believe the lie that you are special, that you’re better than other people.”

” … regardless of what profession or creative path we take. The issue is how to deal with the anxiety and narcissistic needs that often accompany being an artist, without damaging your spirit or threatening your life.”

The full article at

Philip Seymour Hoffman


A totally different experience

In contrast, she describes the Acting Without Agony Academy class by Brad Heller as “a totally different experience from my college training. His approach is that acting is fun and not that complex. When you walk into Brad’s class, he immediately accepts you as an actor and tries to help you get better. He is never mean or harsh. He just speaks the truth in a loving (and often funny) way.”

She says “The vibe of the class is very warm, supportive and fun. I think I would be way better actor by now if I had not studied acting at NYU, and just came straight to Brad.”

The school website says it is built around the lessons of the late Don Richardson who wrote the critically acclaimed book Acting Without Agony: An Alternative to the Method.

Nurturing sensitivity

John Ruskin, head of The Ruskin School of Acting, notes that “actors must be willing to experience themselves and their feelings in ways other people are not willing. In doing this, they give their audience permission to do the same.”

But to have that kind of emotional freedom, you need support while you’re learning and performing.

And actors are often highly sensitive people, who may need to be more aware of their emotional reactions to situations and to other people – and take care not get overwhelmed.

Source the

Frank Langella in Unscripted, HBO, 2005



Creativity and low self esteem …

Overcoming low self esteem: “Where was my self respect?”

Our self-esteem or positive self concept, and how well and deeply we value ourselves, and impacts how fully we can live and realize our talents.

The horrific experience of abuse interests me as a creativity researcher for how it can distort awareness and self concept in such destructive ways, and how much it can shut down or divert energy you could otherwise use for creative expression.

Although these experiences may not be something you can simply “get over,” many creative people report gaining strength, self-awareness and inspiration from what they have had to deal with.

Meredith Vieira

Full article here

From her Psychology Today article: Self-esteem vs. Self-respect.



Headcanons: Empathy&Experience taking

The Psychology of Fandom: Why We Get Attached to Fictional Characters
by Abby Norman

One thing that helps us empathize with family and friends, no matter what our baseline capabilities to do so are, is trying to fill in the details of what we don’t know about their situation. Interestingly enough, this is also more or less what we do with fictional characters; in fact, it’s sometimes easier to empathize with them because we are often given, expositionally, far more detailed and intimate knowledge of a character than we would ever know about someone in our real lives. And, as in life, it’s our nature to fill in the blanks when we’re presented with a character that we haven’t gotten to know very well yet. Fanfiction is one way that we do this on a community level. Headcanons, a term in fandom that refers to what an individual believes to be true about a character, even though it’s not “canon”, are another way that we flesh out the details of these character’s lives as we attempt to understand and, ultimately, feel for them on some level.

On a neurobiological level, our experience of consuming fiction is actually very real. Measurably so. When we read about the scent of coffee, for instance, the olfactory center of our brain lights up. We can’t really smell it, but we’re familiar with the scent and we can conjure it up. Especially if the language is rich and helps us recreate the experience. Metaphors can be helpful in giving us a vibrant, multi-sensory experience when we’re reading, similes help a wider range of readers experience the same emotion, based on our own internal experiences.

Whether or not characters are ontologically “real”, our familiarity with them renders them very emotionally potent; a kind of emotional truth that we experience at a biochemical level quite the same as we would with strangers whom we get to know over the course of a season — or years, for the loyalist of fans.

While we may choose, however, to engage with fiction we do not appear to be in control of our emotional responses to it — quasi or not. And even still, how is it then that we can go full-well into a movie, or pick up a book we’ve read a million times, not only knowing the emotional climax is coming but knowing full well it’s not “real” — yet we still find ourselves tearing up? Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

Philosopher Tamar Gendler posits that we have two competing levels of consciousness — belief and alief.The former being what governs our intellectual knowledge that yes, fiction is not fact. Where the latter, what she calls “alief” is our brain’s ability to suspend our belief that fiction is not “real” — which is what makes watching movies enjoyable. We can get “lost” in them, but as soon as the credits roll and we return to our day to day life, we know it was just Meryl Streep with a superb haircut.

“Experience-taking” is different from putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, which is more “perspective-taking” —like when we were discussing empathy earlier. The act of taking on experience, traits or attributes is very powerful; since it happens on an unconscious level, over time positive change can develop for the individual: increased confidence, motivation and a greater level of comfort socially, for one.

Whole article – very worth taking the time to read it!!


The JOY of Creativity

“Composing gives me great pleasure… there is nothing that surpasses the joy of creation, if only because through it one wins hours of self-forgetfulness, when one lives in a world of sound.”

Pianist and composer Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

As Benjamin Disraeli once said, ‘Most people will die with their music still in them.’

“But, what if the most ‘real’ thing you can do is to do work that reflects your authentic self? To find a way to actually live your life on your own terms? What if what you really need to do is to get ‘unreal.’

 “Now, imagine someone asking you ‘How many hours a week do you spend creating something that gives you joy?’ or ‘Do you have a creative habit that helps you handle stress?’”



Source and full article –

Embracing the artist within

There’s a huge misconception about art and artists. Most people believe that you are born with talent or not, and there’s nothing you can do about it. While we can’t all be Van Goghs, the desire to create, along with proper instruction, can take a person of modest talent a long way towards creating art. If you’ve ever had the urge to embrace your artistic side, why not do it? It doesn’t matter whether you think you are talented or not.


Here are some of the best ways that picking up your paint brush can benefit your brain and mental health.

  • Art stimulates the imagination
  • Art makes you more observant
  • Art enhances problem-solving skills
  • Art reduces stress
  • Art encourages out-of-the-box thinking and lets you come up with your own unique solution
  • Art enhances cognitive abilities and memory, even for people with serious brain conditions

Source, picture and rest of article HERE

Doodle into relaxation

Coloring books, though, are by far the most popular kids’ activity for grown-ups. And it’s not hard to see why.

Just imagine your favorite coloring book as a kid, only updated to reflect your much-improved motor skills and worldliness. Wouldn’t it be nice to take an hour with a cup of coffee and get lost in a sea of possibility and imagination?

These books are selling at breakneck pace. Publishers are even having trouble keeping them in stock.

The book that started the craze, “Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book,” has sold over 2 million copies worldwide since its release in 2013.

It doesn’t look like this coloring book train is slowing down any time soon, so here are three reasons you need to get on board.

Read more nad source

1. A good coloring session can relieve stress and anxiety.

2. No paper? No problem. Now, you can color on the go.

3) These coloring books are also hilarious.

Whether you’re coloring to relax or just to have some fun, there’s a coloring book out there for you.



“The beauty and difficulty of being creative”

Radio host Julie Burstein has found the perfect analogy for creativity—raku pottery. A Japanese art form in which molded clay is heated for 15 minutes and then dropped in sawdust which bursts into flames, what makes this pottery so beautiful is its imperfections and cracks.

Burstein interviewed hundred of artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers for her book, Spark: How Creativity Works, and heard many of them describe their process in similar terms — that the best parts of their work came from embracing challenges, misfortunes and the things they simply couldn’t control. As Burstein explains in this talk given at TED2012, “I realized that creativity grows out of everyday experiences more often than you would think.”

In this talk, Burstein identifies four lessons that creative people should embrace:

  • Pay attention to the world around you, and be open to experiences that might change you.
  • Realize that the best work often comes out of the life experiences that are most difficult.
  • Get comfortable with the fact that pushing up against a limitation can actually help you find your voice.
  • Don’t be afraid to explore loss — be it rejection, heartbreak or death — because making beauty out of these things is so powerful.

To hear how Burstein learned these lessons from filmmaker Mira Nair, writer Richard Ford, sculptor Richard Serra and photographer Joel Meyerowitz, listen to her wonderful talk. And after the jump, nine more talks on the nature of creativity.