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Seniors & Creative Arts Therapy at Home

Click here for the creative arts project video with Mariya Keselman-Mekler, MA, ATR-BC, LPC

The discipline of creation, be it to paint, compose, write, is an effort towards wholeness.” -Madeleine L'Engle

Prior to the pandemic, I had the privilege of working with diverse KleinLife clients through providing art therapy & counseling, and program coordination. Through art therapy groups, participants were invited to utilize the creative process, peer support, and therapeutic relationship to process difficult emotions and enhance their well-being. For example, I was working with our Holocaust Survivors community on family albums to help them create an empowering narrative; and with our older adults on increasing positivity through engagement in art.

During recent phone check-ins, I learned from many of my clients that they are taking social distancing guidelines seriously. While these precautions are so critically important for public health, they also result in an increased sense of social isolation which places them at a higher risk of developing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Art therapy has been shown as a useful tool for navigating these challenges.

During this time of uncertainty, KleinLife aims to provide its clients with connections, creative outlets, and activities to maintain wellness at home. As part of this transition, I developed a creative arts video and shared it with the wider KleinLife community. In the video, I created a mandala (a meditative circle of protection using materials clients have access to them. Clients were invited to use art for relaxation and self-care by doing a similar project at home. During the course of the project, our clients demonstrated creativity and resourcefulness. After completion, some people shared their artwork and experiences with me. One participant told me that she placed her artwork on her window and witnessed her neighbors clapping as they walked by; another stated that at least for some time, she was able to forget about the quarantine and feel as if she is living in the former, pre-virus life. People who shared the same household spoke of the importance of sitting together to work on a project, adding variety and relaxation to their daily routines. Many participants asked to see their peers’ projects to witness them “come together” virtually.

"...another (participant) stated that at least for some time, she was able to forget about the quarantine and feel as if she is living in the former, pre-virus life."

In this time of social isolation, art can act as a transitional object, helping us feel less alone. Although individuals who engaged in this project did not work on it at the same time and place, coming together through art gave them a much-needed connection.

Mariya Keselman-Mekler, MA, ATR-BC, LPC

Counseling & Program Manager, Creative Arts Therapist of Revive (Wellness Program for Holocaust Survivors) at KleinLife

Above are some of the mandalas created by seniors while in isolation.

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