Art Therapist, Gail McGregor, has been working with elders at An Acarsaid Care-home in Broadford for the last eight weeks. Here, she shares her experience of the group sessions with us.
For the past 8 weeks I have offered a variety of art therapy workshops around the theme of Summer in order to bring a variety of natural materials – colours, hues, forms, textures and smells to the group.
Making art from nature involves utilizing various elements of nature, such as leaves, sticks, flowers and petals, in a creative way to make a new art object.
The resulting artworks make a statement about our love of nature and most importantly the elders’ relationship to it. We all appreciate the days getting longer, warmer and the countryside turning greener, the power of growth around us brings light and joy within us especially for those who have experienced mental and emotional disconnection from the natural world.
On a weekly basis the dynamics of the group changed due a variety of reasons such as family, GP or Clergy visits. Some elders joined in on a-one-off basis due to respite care. For others they just wanted to sit and watch and more often than not – they took part in our group discussion. Those who participated came with enthusiasm and a willingness to create.
It has been wonderful to hear residents talk about how they have enjoyed the sessions. The group have also listened to each other, reminiscing about their past or one resident chatting about her knowledge of nature and another sharing his laughter. But, most importantly, it has been lovely to witness their realization that they can still create. A common answer to my questions around their involvement in an activity is their reply that they are either not any good at art or haven’t done art since they were at school.
The elders’ involvement in the sessions has not only ignited their creativity, their imagination, intuition and playfulness but also their motivation, self-esteem, group dynamics and most importantly self-worth.
The staff at An Acarsaid have been very supportive in helping the elders not only to create a piece of art work but to be stimulated and show greater self-esteem.
Art therapy is no longer an adjunct to psychotherapy because it enables those living with various kinds of dementia to remain creative. Creating a piece of art allows an alternative to the spoken words which might have slipped away. The art work – paintings – remain tangible objects to be found again and again. The emphasis therefore on art therapy is on the process of creation, that making an image, whether in pictures or words, expresses something of the person.
Gail McGregor B.A., P.G.C.E., M.A., P.G.D.