Women's College Hospital - Health Care for Women, Revolutionized

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Art-inspired healing

August 7, 2012

At Women’s College Hospital (WCH) we understand that trauma patients often respond well to alternative treatment methods, such as art therapy – a powerful yet non-intrusive way to express their emotions.

That’s why our Trauma Therapy Program (TTP) recently partnered with the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) to create a one-of-a-kind pilot project benefiting women survivors of childhood abuse.

Nine women, patients of TTP, were invited to participate in SpeakART-AGO, a 12-week program designed to creatively and actively help treat trauma in the early stages of recovery.

Eva-Marie Stern, art psychotherapist with WRAP and TTP, led the project along with Anne Fourt, Stern’s co-therapist, and one of AGO’s education officers.

“The chemistry between our program and the gallery was extraordinary,” said Stern. “We were able to create a safe space for women to see themselves reflected in the artand to feel like they belong.”

Together the group analyzed a selection of artwork at the gallery and discussed how each piece spoke to the issues of trauma. The participants were then able to take their ideas, thoughts and feelings and create their own piece of art.

One participant expressed the value of the experience: “The group was like a bridge between the trauma and a world beyond trauma.”

Thanks to the positive response from the women, SpeakART-AGO is expected to become an ongoing offering. Additionally, AGO has provided the Women’s Mental Health Program at WCH with special passes so that other patients can experience healing with art.

“It’s no news that art and creativity are powerful resources,” said Stern. “But it’s new to create such synergy between a medical and a cultural institution. And it’s very satisfying to be able to widen and deepen our patients’ care at Women’s College Hospital.”

For more information about TTP, please click here.

Images created as part of the SpeakART-AGO program, in response to gallery visits. 


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