Art Breaks Boundaries

Art therapy internship

For my art therapy internship class, I worked with the geriatrics population at Life Geisinger here on Marywood campus.  The population was categorized by their cognitive level, some clients were aware of their surroundings and current events while others had impairments or dementia. The art therapists created a directive for the population which entailed making a picture of a flower pot out of collage materials. Everything was pre-cut for them and the art therapists tried to only help them with gluing down the pieces. Over all it was very successful and enjoyable.

My experience

I worked with two different lovely ladies. First I worked with a client at a moderate cognitive level and a low physical level. We worked well together. She would tell me where to place the flower cutout and then I would put down a drop of glue.  Next I took her hand in mine and we pressed the piece down together. The smile on her face grew with every flower we added.

The second client I worked with could only speak Spanish and was at a moderate cognitive and physical level. I took about three years of Spanish, but I am not even close to being fluent. I was only able to speak using simple common phrases, yet she and I were still able to communicate and truly bond. We were able to discuss where I go to school and that I liked art. She shared with me where she is from, her favorite color, and we were both agreed that we didn’t like this cold weather. Yet it wasn’t this small talk that allowed us to bond, but rather the amazing abilities of art therapy. We created art by her placing buttons and cutouts on the paper and pointing to where she wanted me to put glue. I gestured the glue bottle to her and she shook her head ‘no,’ then laughed while she pointed at my glue covered hands. She and I kept gesturing to and laughing about my ‘dirty’ hands and her ‘clean’ hands throughout our session. This type of enjoyment and bond is rare for her because there are no Spanish speaking clients or caretakers at Life Geisinger. This means she is rarely able to hold a conversations or have a full grasp of the activity she is partaking in. She and I both were very happy to have shared this experience together. The amazing abilities of art therapy were able to overcome a generation gap as well as a language barrier. Art therapy truly breaks boundaries.

Please feel free to share any experiences that you have had where art has broken boundaries.

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