Healing through art at Wedge Gardens

Art therapy has been included in Wedge Gardens treatment centre’s occupational therapy (OT) programme.

This expressive therapy uses the creative process of making art to improve the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of people undergoing substance abuse rehabilitation at the Rand Aid centre, which is situated in Whitney Gardens outside of Johannesburg.

Kendra Neethling, the cente’s occupational therapist, underwent an intensive five-day art therapy training course. In mid-September, the first four-week art therapy journey at Wedge Gardens was successfully concluded. Run as a closed group, it was targeted at specific individuals.

“Art as a modality in OT is a highly expressive and evocative technique that allows individuals to engage in a carefree, unstructured and highly personal journey towards self discovery,” says Kendra. “It is a safe space utilised for non-judgemental self expression and was highly enjoyed by the eight patients who partook in the first four-week expressive art therapy sessions.”

The patients recounted, during their last group, the high level of flow they experienced in the sessions: feelings of contentment, mastery over their environment, discovery of self and a shared sense of space and communality in experience.

“The gentlemen were given two-hour sessions in which they had free rein to utilise any and all materials in the OT department after a warm-up/introduction to the session. The groups were then concluded with an hour of sharing, discussion and debriefing.

“There has been noticeable motivation from the other patients at Wedge to partake in the next four-week journey – with all spaces for the sessions already filled.”

Kendra is thrilled at the level of engagement from the patients and is excited to see the evolution of the groups as time unfolds. The expressive art therapy groups are yet another example of how the power of activity can create monumental shifts in a person’s motivation, attitude, skills and self awareness.

For more information, call Kendra on 011 430 0320.

* You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)