For Dr. Peter Centre clients who have experienced trauma and discrimination, art therapy can be an effective means to promote healing.
Our Dr. Peter Centre Art Therapist Scott MacDonald explains: “Psychologically, our brains store trauma in symbols. For example, if someone experienced childhood trauma in their home growing up, the picture of a house could bring back those negative experiences. In the art studio, we create a safe place where people can start to acknowledge some of the traumatic experiences they’ve had, through drawing, painting or sculpture. Then, as a therapist, I can engage with them to help them move past the ongoing effects of those negative experiences.”
A Sense of Self-Worth
Many of our clients have led lives full of negative experiences which have led them to internalize a negative sense of self-worth. “By the time that we first see a client, self-defamation may have already become an automatic response,” says Scott. “As a result, many of the people that we see have stopped giving themselves the chance of even having a positive experience, let alone having the motivation to engage in their own health care.”
“For me, I see courage in anyone who walks into the art studio to face their internal critic. I ensure that we offer a safe place to encourage compassionate self-reflection and a positive arena for change,” says Scott.
Art therapy provides clients an opportunity to gain a sense of self-worth through the empowerment found in artistic creation. Through expressive arts, clients can connect with themselves and our art therapists to promote change and growth on a deeply personal level.
The Value of Self-Acceptance
Our clients and art therapists explore personal issues through a variety of art projects that can include painting, drawing, fabric art, quilting, small sculpting projects, papier-mâché, beading, sewing and pottery. Art therapy enables a wide range of outcomes, including the reduction of client anxiety and social isolation, improved stress management, and enhanced feelings of control, confidence and empowerment.
Art therapy also encourages more consistent engagement in HIV treatment at the Dr. Peter Centre. HIV treatment is now globally accepted as a key HIV prevention tool. An HIV positive person on their prescribed medication can live a near normal lifespan, and is 96% less likely to transmit the disease.