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Expressive Arts Program Introduced at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital

February 13th, 2020

Our guest bloggers this week is Eileen Andreassi, MA, CTRS & Megan Frisco, CTRS from Burke Rehabilitation Hospital

The Recreational Therapy Department at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital provides a comprehensive array of programs for patients and individuals living in the community. Beyond the extensive Adaptive Sports program, Burke is expanding options to other adaptive recreation areas including the expressive arts.  Recreational Therapists at Burke use art within treatment sessions to help patients achieve positive outcomes.  They are expanding this popular activity and offering it to the community via PeaceLove creative workshops.

The PeaceLove project was started in 2009 by two cousins, one of whom was diagnosed with a mental illness.  Although he never used any art supplies to create anything prior to his diagnosis, he found that painting helped to greatly ameliorate his symptoms.  And so a movement was born to bring expressive arts opportunities to people with any type of illness or injury.

Megan Frisco, a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) recently completed her course work in this innovative expressive arts approach. Megan is now providing workshops based on the concept of helping people express themselves while finding peace of mind.  Through the use of a variety of art supplies, the workshops strive to allow people to tap into their inner strength and express themselves without words.  Participants are invited to share about their creation or how they felt during the process.  Sharing is voluntary and it is a judgment-free zone.

For the first PeaceLove workshop, Megan implemented a program called Creative Calisthenics.  Participants included in-patients, family, visitors, community members, and volunteers. The session was built on unexpected twists and turns to challenge individuals to get out of their comfort zone and feel okay with things out of their control.

After riotous laughing and passing the canvases multiple times, the person who started the canvas wound up with it.  Everyone agreed it looked a lot different than if they’d finished it.  There was group consensus the process was great as each person had contributed to its creation.  Some people stated it felt weird giving their painting away the first few times but they learned to let go of that feeling as they shared it.

Program evaluation comments included: “It was both calming and stimulating”; “This workshop helped me realize I should be less judgmental”; “To me my project means, out of darkness, there’s light and healing” and “My project means hope: things do get better”.

Based on very positive feedback, the first program was a huge success and the objectives of providing a safe space for creativity and expression in a non-verbal manner were achieved.  We look forward to continuing to offer this new and exciting approach to people in our community.

If you are interested in joining this or any other Burke Adaptive Sports and Recreation program, please contact Eileen Andreassi at 914-597-2248 or email adaptivesports@burke.org.







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