Mission Moment Monday: Maggie Carine

On a cold February day, I ventured to our Great Neck office to meet with Maggie Carine, a Board-Certified Art Therapist who works for the WellLife PROS program. I heard a lot of great things about this program and wanted to learn more about art therapy and how it helps the people we serve.

 

“Art therapy is no different than being a social worker or a mental health counselor. You are trained in art and use creativity as a way for your clients to express themselves,” she told me, as she talked me through the process.

 

 

Maggie, a Pratt Institute graduate, has a passion for sparking small successes that lead to big breakthroughs for WellLife participants. By using art as an outlet she is able to communicate with people in ways that others may not be able to. “It is a very interesting practice because you can talk about issues through their art and they don’t even realize they are talking about it,” she explained, “it’s through a metaphorical lens.”

 

Art therapy has helped participants develop their cognitive skills and has also become a self-esteem booster. For some of them, it is safer to bring up their problems through the characters they create and images that they draw. Luckily, art therapy is very tangible and comes in many different forms such as sculpting therapy, drama therapy, music therapy, the list goes on. “Many people get confused between being an art therapist and being an art teacher, but an art teacher is someone who tells you what is right and wrong,” she said, “we are trained to analyze the elements in the art rather than the style of art.”

 

 

Most of the individuals that attend the tri-weekly session don’t have any art background and begin with the simplest thing, drawing a happy face or even trying their hand at crafts. While some come eager to participate, others may need a little motivation in the form of artistic direction such as “can you help me paint this” or “can you cut this with me.” Maggie spoke to me about one participant who would come early in the morning before any of the staff and wait outside of the facility to open. Many of the workers would tell him that the program didn’t start until 11 AM, but he would still keep showing up. Shortly after beginning the art program, he started coming in at the proper time and participating more. This was a stark contrast to when he first began the program where he would sit alone, detached from the environment. “You’re giving them structure, you’re giving them permission to work on something bigger and it helps build confidence,” Maggie told me as she led me to the art room where I saw paintings, drawings, sculptures, and even pieces made from crafts.

 

 

To keep the program alive during COVID, WellLife sent out art kits to the participants so they could continue creating art at home. One of the participants, Michael, has been in the art therapy program for a few years and has contributed many of his pieces to be displayed at WellLife. He is not the only one. There are many participants who are also wonderful artists that have their work up for display all over the facilities. As Maggie showed me a drawing made on maroon construction paper of a face with a smile, drawn in purple crayon, she said, “I think this program helps the individual to see themselves and they’re not used to that.”

 

To learn more about our PROS program, visit:

https://welllifenetwork.org/what_we_do/behavioral_health/pros

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