Noilly Prattle: Looking Back: 29 – a window of opportunity opens

Friday, May 22, 2015

Looking Back: 29 – a window of opportunity opens

     In due course, I was able to move from the second shift to the day shift. Being on the day shift gave me a wider diversity of things to do besides playing Pinochle. There were more activities for the patients in the daytime and more of a need for the aides to take them here and there in the hospital.

Art Therapy with children 
       One day I was told to escort some patients to “Art Therapy”. Immediately on hearing “Art Therapy” I was intrigued. I had taken some Art and Psychology courses at the university, but I had never heard of using art as a kind of therapy and was curious to see what it was all about. I brought a few of our patients to the Art Therapy room. While they were there I had to wait for them, so. I had a chance to look around and watch what was going on pay particular attention to the Art Therapist. I didn't talk to him that first day and when the time was up I took the patients back to the ward.

Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night
       The next time I brought some patients to the Art Therapy room I introduced myself to the Art Therapist and asked him if he minded talking to me about what he did with the patients and how he used art as a therapeutic device. He was surprised, I suppose, by an aide showing an interest in his work so I told him that I had a B.A., did some drawing myself and thought the idea of art therapy interesting. After that, whenever I brought patients to the room, he was delighted to show me their work and explain how they often expressed their fears and anxieties symbolically in the forms and colors they chose or in magazine or other pictures they might choose for a collage.

       He explained that he didn't “interpret” the pictures, that the process itself was therapeutic and sometimes cathartic. He would also let the patients talk about their pictures and how they felt about their work. The picture on the right is pretty self explanatory about the boys feelings towards his parents. The therapist might nudge the conversation towards exploring why the boy is so angry with them. This process could help patients to resolve some of their issues and improve enough to leave the hospital.

       We talked about symbols and how they work in the sub-conscious mind and can be difficult to interpret. Some symbols are thought to be universal, as in Carl Jung's archetypes, and can be interpreted fairly consistently. One of the most easily recognizable archetypes is the Marlboro Man. He represents the virtues of masculinity: strength, independence, self-reliance. Furthermore, he is the warrior and hero of myth descended from Odysseus and Achilles. The highly successful Star Wars movie series owes much of its popularity to archetypal symbols. The most endearing one, of course, being the Sage personified or caricatured by Yoda. Other symbols can be highly personalized and may not even be understood on a conscious level by the individual creating them. Discussing an individual's work can lead to a surfacing of the symbol into the conscious mind and contribute to an understanding of the issue(s) that led to the patient's being in the hospital.

       An idea began to germinate in my mind. I started thinking about the possibility of going into a graduate school program in special needs program for primary school children with emotional problems.

To be continued...

No comments: