Meet the Community – Art Therapy in Coolmine
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As part of our ongoing ‘Meet the Community’ series, we chatted with Coolmine Psychotherapist, David Madden MSC BSC MIACP MIPTN about the important (and, sometimes, difficult) work he does in our organisation. What is your role in Coolmine? I am a psychotherapist in Coolmine. I work across the three main services; the two residential services and the day service services. How did you come to fill this role in the organisation? The role was created about five years ago following the Coolmine longitudinal study which identified the need for targeted psychotherapy. What is an average week like for you? It can be varied, from running Poetry Therapy in Ashleigh House, to an Art Therapy group in the Lodge, to one-to-one work in the Lodge, Ashleigh House or Lord Edward Street. I also do couples counselling in both residential services. I do other jobs within my role too. I do critical incident debriefing when required. I am an accredited Clinical Supervisor. I deliver training on a wide varied of subject from Domestic Violence, Professional Boundaries and the Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA). I also deliver talks at conferences like ECETT in Dublin Castle 2017 and Monar in Warsaw 2018. What benefits does art therapy have when it comes to addiction recovery? “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso Art therapy utilizes the creative process to improve the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of individuals. It helps promote self-expression, feelings, and emotions. It has the ability to facilitate positive perspectives on one’s life. It promotes personal independence, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency. It can help an individual work through difficult experiences. It allows emotions to be uncovered and expressed in a healthy way that might otherwise remain trapped or unexpressed. It can help psychically; increasing hand-eye coordination and motor skills. It encourages the development of healthy coping strategies. Therapy can facilitate insight, empathy, and acceptance of other’s life challenges. Art therapy is capable of exploring, managing, and providing insight into traumatic experiences. What is the toughest part of your job? Knowing that, sometimes, all that can be achieved in treatment is just the beginning of a lifetime of healing. But better to make a start than no start at all. Understanding that creating some movement around unhelpful thoughts and beliefs is hard work for both the client and myself. Behavioural and thought patterns imprinted in early childhood can help an individual adapt but can be very difficult to change when it’s all we know, or they no longer work. It can be like helping someone learn to walk, emotionally. Is your job inspiring? Yes. Through witnessing the changes that happen within individuals through therapeutic interventions, the one-to-one work, the group work, peers and the community, it is rewarding to see how lives can change. I think graduations are a good way to see the inspiration and courage our clients show in the journey of recovery. Why did you decide to introduce poetry therapy to the clients? Are you surprised by the powerful outcome it has already had? Poetry Therapy, like Art therapy, is about bringing about a therapeutic interaction between the participants and the facilitator through the medium of expression. It is certainly a skill that can have wide ranging benefits for the clients. I have been using poetry for a number of years on a one-to-one basis, but only in the last year have I used it in a group setting in Coolmine. Knowing how potent Poetry Therapy can be, I was happy to receive some very positive feedback from the recent group in Ashleigh House. They were very happy to have their work published in a unique book containing the work carried out over the duration of the programme. The strength of the approach for me lies in the fact that it is an expressive therapy, so there is no wrong way for clients to do it, there is only one right way and that is the way someone chooses to express themselves. However people choose to express themselves is right, and so the discussions that take place have a validity that is hard to match for depth and authenticity.
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