Art therapy: Helping people cope through quarantine

Coronavirus

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — In order to continue providing services during quarantine, the medical field has transitioned primarily to telehealth.

The change is easier from some specialties more than others.

Art therapy, for example, is a little more complicated when the therapists and clients can’t meet in-person. But with a little creativity and a few adjustments, counselors are making it work.

“Art therapy can be helpful especially if somebody is having difficulty accessing words for what’s going on,” explained art therapist Maureen Kelleher. “And that can happen for a number of reasons, maybe somebody is a little reluctant to touch on some trauma and needs a more accessible way to express this. Or maybe somebody is a little more resistant to or hesitant to engage in something therapeutic and it can be a more inviting method.”

When the coronavirus pandemic prevented in-person sessions, Kelleher set up a makeshift home office to reach clients via telehealth.

“The individuals that I’ve seen were by and large thrilled and excited and happy to continue this way. We all sort of went through the learning curve together of connecting through technology. We are exploring both the goals they had prior to self-quarantining as well as what degree the impact has, that you’re not seeing your friends, or you’re not working or you’re stuck in your house with your family.” 

There are challenges.

Clients need access to their own art supplies. They also need to find privacy to be able to open up and talk freely during the sessions, which can be difficult during quarantine.

Kelleher says while it’s different, the therapy is still effective.

“Creating that consistency, knowing that there’s an outlet to talk about and explore creatively the uncertainty that we’re all in. Because I feel like this is such a uniquely challenging time and to offer individuals the information of knowing it’s still possible to have therapy. There are outlets for you to process this. This is an extremely unprecedented stressful time and you don’t have to go through it alone. “


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