When I started at K-B in January 2016, one of my goals was to identify a need that our residents had and to develop and implement a program to meet that need. After spending time getting to know the residents, I observed that many people were facing challenging life transitions (i.e. selling a home, loss of the ability to drive, loss of a spouse, etc.) and as a result, were experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. I knew this was the need I wanted to address, but wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. The challenge was that I didn’t want to create just another “support group” as this might have a negative connotation for some people. Additionally, I wasn’t sure how open people would be to talking candidly about their struggles and emotions with their peers. I also wanted to be able to include residents of all cognitive levels so a discussion-focused group didn’t seem to be a good option. Despite a lot of brainstorming, I was struggling to come up with a program that would be the best fit for our residents.
Ultimately, the inspiration for Inside Art came from one of our residents. During a resident conversation, I learned that this individual used coloring as a way to manage anxiety. This was the light bulb moment I had been waiting for! I did some research on art as a form of therapy and was excited to learn that art not only benefits our health and well-being, but has been shown to be a great tool for working through depression and anxiety. With this in mind, I teamed up with our Chaplain, Kathryn Price, to create Inside Art. Our goal for Inside Art was to provide an outlet for residents to identify, explore, and express emotions through various forms of art. Each monthly session of Inside Art focuses on a topic such as positive thinking, fear and worry, forgiveness, resiliency of the human heart and gratitude, to name a few. Kathryn and I lead the residents in creating art projects that focus on a specific topic. Group participants use different art forms so that each month they have an opportunity to create something unique and different. Since our first session in May, residents have been painting, sewing, making collages, drawing, coloring, and getting crafty to create therapeutic masterpieces. On several occasions, these hour-long sessions have stretched into two hours as residents lose track of time while working diligently on their projects. Our Inside Art class has been well received by the regulars who attend. One resident noted, “I didn’t know I was going to have this much fun today!” after attending her first session. I’m excited to continue working with Kathryn to make Inside Art a positive and meaningful experience for our residents.