Catherine M Harris, MA, ATR-BC
Art Therapy Services
"If we pretend to respect the artist at all, we must allow freedom of choice. Art derives a considerable part of its beneficial exercise from flying in the face of presumptions." - Henry James
Art Therapy Services
Through my current practice of art therapy with older adults, the overarching goal of my work continues to be the improvement of clients' quality of life. To achieve this goal, I strive to provide artistic programming that inspires reminiscence, emotional expression, increased self-esteem, and socialization for the seniors who participate.
While my current practice focuses on older adults, particularly individuals suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and other age-related dementias, I am qualified and open to working with people of all ages. In addition to working with senior citizens, I also have experience serving children, adolescents, and young adults in the medical hospital setting.
Art Therapy Sessions
Through my practice, I continually strive to provide participants with visual and mental stimulation through the creative power of making art. Through group and individual sessions, I can offer participants a quiet and relaxing space where they can learn and develop new artistic techniques while working with various media such as watercolor, oil pastels, collage, or clay. Time spent creating art in the studio can aid participants in reducing stress, expressing emotions, and gaining new skills to address old problems.
Taking on the responsibility of caring for an aging spouse, parent, or friend comes with its own set of challenges. It is not uncommon for caretakers to become so focused on the needs of their loved ones that they forget to take care of themselves. Through group sessions, I can offer caretakers a moment of solace completely for themselves. This time creating art provides individuals with the opportunity to sort through complicated emotions, the chance to cope with exhaustion and anxiety, as well as a place to talk with other people experiencing the same day-to-day struggles.
Within these sessions, group members can also learn how to engage their loved ones in creative activities. As Alzheimer's Disease progresses, individuals often have trouble finding the right words to communicate their thoughts and needs. As a result, alternate forms of communication become a necessity. When words fail and conversation becomes difficult, creating artwork together can provide a new way to reconnect with and relate to a loved one experiencing Alzheimer's.
In addition to facilitating group and individual art therapy sessions, I have organized participant art exhibits for several organizations in the past. These events provide participants with the opportunity to see their artwork framed and hung on the wall and also give families and caregivers a chance to see what their loved ones have been able to learn and create within the studio. Seeing one's own artwork within an exhibit can provide a wonderful sense of personal talent and accomplishment.
** At the same time, participants and their artwork should be approached with the utmost sensibility and care, and as a result, artwork is never shown without consent from the artist and their caregiver.
Seeing artwork in person can be an amazing stimulant for meaningful discussion, especially for individuals with Alzheimer's Disease. As the art educators of New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) have found, no past memories are needed for a person to talk about a work of art that is right in front of them, making conversation easier for individuals with memory loss. Guiding participants through art museums and galleries, I can engage group members in discussions about the artists' technique, the artworks' historical context, as well as the participants' own emotional responses to the artwork.
In addition to taking participants on gallery tours and providing group members with an opportunity for stimulating discussion, I like to bring these benefits back to the art studio by engaging participants in artistic activities related to the exhibits toured. This takes MoMA's idea a step further by providing participants with both an occasion for intellectual conversation and discussion as well as an opportunity for creative art-making.
Workshops and Lectures
Since art therapy is a comparatively new field, I have a strong passion for educating groups on the practice and benefits of the profession. As a result, I offer lectures and workshops in this ongoing effort to further education about art therapy. Past presentation topics include the practice of art therapy with individuals suffering from Alzheimer's Disease as well as how art therapy can empower disadvantaged populations.
For more information on art therapy services or to schedule a free trial session, please contact Catherine by email at: email@example.com.