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Art Therapy For Mental Health Recovery

Bahamian public encouraged to support Sandilands programme

Clients at the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC) will enjoy the benefits of art therapy as Bahamian multidisciplinary artist Kelley Knowles–Charlow is partnering with the Sandilands Occupational Therapy Department to host the first annual art competition for patients and residents of the institution. The competition will be held on April 20 and organisers encourage the public’s support for this innovative therapeutic programme.

Sunitha Pati, head of Occupational Therapy at SRC, stressed the significance of art in mental health rehabilitation. Referring to research by Cathy Malchiodi, a licenced art therapist and clinical counsellor, she said: “Art making can be soothing and stress-reducing; a way to transcend troubling circumstances or life’s problems. Others have experienced how imagery helps to solve problems, release powerful or distressing emotions, recover from traumatic losses or experiences, or alleviate pain or physical symptoms.” Mrs Pati noted that art therapy is based on the belief that people can process life experiences through art.

The art therapy programme at SRC began working with 20 clients from the various wards and programmes, however, both Mrs Pati and Mrs Knowles-Charlow point out that additional help is needed if it is to be sustainable. Mrs Knowles-Charlow has extended an invite to local artists to consider coaching clients of SRC as they prepare for the competition. Interested persons from the community are invited to volunteer to assist with the art therapy programme by contacting the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre at 364-9600.

Mrs Knowles–Charlow lives in Miami, Florida. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sculptural Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York and a Master’s degree from Long Island University in Art Therapy. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy.

In the future, she hopes to dedicate more time to connecting her art process with her personal interests regarding marginalisation and social justice issues. The Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre said it is honoured to have the assistance of a Bahamian artist of such talent who is also equipped with the necessary qualifications to guide this new programme to success.

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