Um espaço para partilha de ideias relacionadas com as práticas artísticas
e os seus efeitos terapêuticos, com destaque para a vertente musical

quinta-feira, 24 de maio de 2012

Art Helps People Live With Mental Illness

At HAI Art Studio, all of the artists have mental illness, and the studio is funded as a mental health program designed to facilitate rehabilitation. 
"Because of the stigma about mental illness, I get treated like I am not functional in society. Here we are treated like artists, and I feel like an artist, not a mental patient.", says one of the artists. She is working on a fairly large canvas. She has painted a background in shades of blue and has just added a flower in vibrant purple. "I have a cocktail of anxiety and depression," she says. "Blue is healing. It helps me slow down and be in the moment. I hope it helps others too."
Everyone at the studio is working from his or her own artistic vision. The creative director of the program and a working artist says that the individuality of the artistic experience is at the heart of the studio's philosophy. "We do not have a single standard." Sometimes the director offers suggestions to help the artists realize their personal vision or to experiment doing something different and challenging for them, but the goal is for each artist to be engaged in the effort to create images that speak to them personally. However, he adds, "Artistic work at the studio is not just a private experience. We mount our own shows, curated by the artists, so that they can have the experience of public presentation of their work. We also have group critiques for artists who want focused review of their work by their peers."
The artists speak about the studio in glowing terms: 
"People with mental illness need an outlet"
"The studio gives people a chance to create, to experiment, and to show their work."
"It's very inspiring here. You pick up the energy, ideas, and creativity of everyone else."

Being with so many like-minded people and having a sense of camaraderie are clearly important dimensions of the experience for these artists. But there's much more to it. It's being in a place without stigma, where people believe in themselves and their abilities. It's having a source of pride. It's having the opportunity to be totally engaged in work they care about. It's having a sense of accomplishment.
Positive psychologists, such as Martin Seligman, tell us that these are among the primary components of psychological well-being. In our society it is not easy for people with mental illness to find opportunities to engage (to immerse themselves) in activities they find meaningful, to experience a sense of accomplishment, and to be part of a community of shared interest and mutual concern. Art can make it possible.
"We need more programs like this," tells the creative director. "We need people to advocate for more funding so that more and more people with mental illness can have art in their lives and a reason to get out of bed in the morning."
Info accessed at Huffington Post
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quinta-feira, 10 de maio de 2012

Autistic Students Shine at Creative Arts Studio

Exceptional Minds Studio is a vocational school for young to middle-aged autistic adults. Students are instructed in the fields of animation, visual effects and computer graphics, in hopes of transforming lives of low expectations into stories of success.

At Exceptional Minds Studio, students are given the opportunity to build their portfolios, as well as receive certification in the use of Adobe software, which qualifies them for entry-level jobs in the computer graphics and animation fields. In addition, while enrolled at Exceptional Minds, students have the opportunity to work on several professional projects, such as the credits for the children’s movie Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

“When they leave here, not only will they have a portfolio to show people the kind of work they can do, they will already have credits from a few movies, and they’re going to have the knowledge of how to use all of these programs,” said Merlan, program director at Exceptional Minds Studio .

In the Exceptional Minds program, students have 20-minute classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays where they learn the basics of specific computer programs. They then spend two weeks developing a project based on those particular lessons. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, students take in work from the outside, such as title work or the animation technique called rotoscoping, which they are paid for. 

Currently, nine students are in the class. Tuition for each year is $30,000, of which students are asked to pay one-third. The rest is raised through donations.

Yudi Bennett, the director of administration for Exceptional Minds and one of the founding mothers, maintains that all children, regardless of learning disabilities, should have an opportunity to chase their dreams. “What happens with kids with autism is they’re fairly well taken care of from preschool to grade 12, but then they graduate high school and there is nothing out there for them,” Bennett said. 

90 percent of adults with autism are unemployed, and most live with their families their entire lives. Some qualify for Social Security, receiving between $600 and $800 a month beginning at age 18 and never get off of it. “As a parent, that’s not the future you want for your kid,” Bennett said. “Typical kids get to live their dream and envision what they want to do. Growing up, I got to do that. Autistic kids don’t get to do that. When they do work, they are pretty much put into a mold.”

Autistic adults that do find work, Bennett said, usually end up with low-level jobs such as cleaning at fast food restaurants or at big chain stores.

“The public perception of people with autism is of limitations,” Bennett said. “What we need to do is show the public is with these kids, it’s not that they have limitations, it’s that they’re wildly creative and wildly imaginative. We need to get people to think outside the box.”

“There is a need for programs like this everywhere and in a lot of fields.”

Info acceed at StudioCityPatch
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sexta-feira, 4 de maio de 2012

Music: the key to wellbeing

Earlier this year a hospital in Slovakia found a unique way to comfort newborns who had been separated from their mothers for treatment – playing music to them. 
Babies in the maternity ward at Kosice-Saca hospital listened to music by Mozart and Vivaldi several times a day to help soothe them. Dr Slavka Viragová, who launched the project, says music therapy also "helps a baby to gain weight, get rid of stress and handle pain better".

This is just one example of the many ways in which music therapy is being used by healthcare professionals to provide comfort and promote healing in patients.

A recent Canadian study led by Sandi Curtis, a music therapy professor at the Concordia University Department of Creative Arts Therapies, found that 
a project involving musicians from a professional symphony orchestra resulted in a wide range of benefits for hospital patients. "Our study showed how music therapy was effective in enhancing pain relief, comfort, relaxation, mood, confidence, resilience, life quality and wellbeing in patients," Curtis explains.

Another study in the US found music helped decrease blood pressure, heart rate and levels of anxiety in patients suffering from heart disease.


It helps reduce stress and anxiety, which exacerbate pain. Therefore, anything we do to encourage relaxation helps alleviate pain. 
Dr Jeanette Bicknell, author of Why Music Moves Us (Palgrave Macmillan), says that while music can relax us and provide a distraction from pain, some types of music appear to be more effective than others.

In a recent article for the journal Psychology Today, she explains that music chosen by patients themselves is more effective in relieving pain. "Researchers have found significant correlations between certain sonic features of music chosen by patients for pain management, and measurements of pain tolerance and perceived pain intensity," Bicknell says.

The sentiment behind the lyrics counts, too. Regardless of the genre, music expressing contentment was found to be most effective in reducing pain. Bickell says music that listeners find emotionally engaging seems to affect the opioid system, which controls physical pain. Bicknell adds that while further research is needed, she hopes music therapy will become more widely recognised as a low-risk way to promote healing. 

Australian singer Olivia Newton-John knows better than most how music can benefit wellbeing. "Writing and listening to music is very healing for me," she explains. "I wrote one album, Gaia, when I had breast cancer and the music was a way for me to heal."
Her recent album Grace and Gratitude Renewed was created to promote "healing, relaxation and meditation". 

Newton-John is also on the cusp of opening a Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, and hopes music therapy will play a role alongside yoga, massage and art therapy.

Info acceed at News.Com.Aud
Image at