Creative Coping Skills and Expressive Arts

The Expressive Arts program at Thomas M. Wernert Center (TMWC) is usually held in the Frank W. Lynch and Roberta Jane Lynch, MSW Art Studio; however, the creative process often overflows into other areas of campus. As you move through TMWC, you will see member art featured in display cases and hung on walls, overhear songs being sung from the Art Studio, or witness dance moves being choreographed in the recreation area.

"The Art Studio is a chill place for me to spend my days," says Kit, a TMWC member. Kit has created numerous projects at TMWC, including pieces featured as auction items for Heart & Soul Toledo fundraising events. "Spending time with others helps with depression and isolation, and doing something with my hands calms my anxiety," she explains.

Neil, TMWC Expressive Arts Coordinator, offers daily opportunities for creative expression, with lessons in language, expressive and fine arts, crafts, music, and movement. All of these art forms encourage self-expression, boost self-esteem, and provide peer interaction.

"When themes of art are applied to our personal lives, it allows us to take a look outside our typical worldview, to hear conversations, and learn lessons that we then incorporate into recovery," says Neil.

A balanced combination of easy movement and mindful conversations work to create a safe atmosphere for sharing among members. Techniques used to create art can form new hobbies and healthy coping mechanisms. Activities like crocheting or coloring can help peers manage stress or provide relief from anxiety. Writing or telling stories also encourages brain activity and creative thinking. Being creative and having fun has a positive impact on self-worth and wellbeing.