At Milwaukee Catholic Home, we believe that an engaged life is a full life, and that the more aspects of your life that you engage, the happier and healthier you age. Simply put; a person never stops learning and growing, and because of that, they are never too old or too limited to explore their creative side.
One of the many ways that we support a person’s health and wellbeing is by offering extensive and innovative art therapy services. Art therapy, a form of therapy involving the encouragement of free self-expression through painting, drawing, or modeling, stimulates cognition and memory, provides socialization, enhances communication, decreases anxiety and feelings of depression, promotes relaxation, and increases self-esteem.
Becky Prusko has been an art therapist at MCH for the past 15 years and helped countless residents in the Health and Rehabilitation Center interpret, express, and resolve their emotions and thoughts through a variety of art mediums.
“It is not always about the product created, but more about the process and experience,” says Becky. “Their art is not graded or analyzed, but it is instead used to help each individual gain a deeper understanding of themselves or the theme that was introduced. Everyone is encouraged to reflect on their work and the positive feelings at least inwardly one may feel afterwards.”
Recently, Becky has expanded her talents in this field to residents of The Residence at 2462, Trinity Woods, and Our Lady of the Angels Convent. Here are just a few of the many ways Art Therapy is offered throughout our organization:
Open Studio Time
Open studio time for art therapy participants take place in the art studio on the 3rd floor of the Health and Rehabilitation Center at Milwaukee Catholic Home, as well as the art studio in the lower level at Trinity Woods. By experimenting with a variety of art materials such as watercolors, fabric, oil pastels, and beads, residents can share their unique thoughts and feelings and continue to grow as artists in a supportive community of peers.
At The Residence at 2462, recent art therapy class attendees chose a magazine image of an animal that best represented them. Then, they were instructed to use colored pencils and pastels to create an environment for the animal. This activity helped provide a new opportunity for residents to get to know each other in a different way, helped initiate conversation, and encouraged self-reflection.
In another recent session, each resident created a “story quilt” square inspired by African American artist Faith Ringgold. They used water-soluble oil pastels and liquid watercolors on a piece of white fabric to create an image of a story that was meaningful to them. The following week, they created a fabric border by intentionally choosing fabrics that continued to tell their story.
Memories in the Making
The Alzheimer’s Association “Memories in the Making” program is a weekly watercolor group that encourages socialization and reminiscing about meaningful life experiences and interests. Their artwork often facilitates communication between the artist and their family/friends. Although it is focused on residents with mild cognitive impairment and early to middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, all are welcome to attend and share their thoughts, feelings, and stories through the use of art.
“Coping with Pain and Anxiety”
“Coping with Pain and Anxiety” was developed to meet the needs of residents on the Transitions Rehab Unit. Through brief creations of art, residents are able to further identify and gain a deeper awareness of their pain/anxiety. Coping techniques, such as deep breathing, are practiced as a group with additional time to discuss the experience and receive support from both staff and peers.
At Milwaukee Catholic Home, we believe that there are many ways to be healthy, and we want to offer our residents opportunities to grow in each of them. Art Therapy is just one of the may ways our community can express themselves and better themselves. To learn more about Art Therapy at Milwaukee Catholic Home, contact Becky Prusko at email@example.com.