Highlights of MDABC’s 2016 Holiday Volunteer Appreciation Party

christmas-partyOn Friday, December 16th the staff of the MDABC were pleased to host our annual Holiday Volunteer Appreciation Party at the Counselling and Wellness Centre in Vancouver. This was a chance for the staff of the MDABC to show how truly grateful we are for all of the time, enthusiasm and dedication shown by the volunteers throughout the year.

The MDABC wouldn’t exist without our wonderful volunteers who generously give their time to facilitate support groups, greet patients in our psychiatric clinic, do community outreach, educate the public about mental health, write newsletter articles, and much more! Just thinking about how many lives have been positively impacted  by our volunteers is amazing.

Guests at the party were treated to a buffet of holiday treats and a craft room full of art party-3supplies with which to get creative. We then did a Christmas Trivia Quiz (click here to download our quiz) and the winners picked out prizes from beneath the tree. A couple of speeches from our Executive Director Martin Addison and our Operations Manager Catherine St.Denis rounded out the afternoon.

It was great to see everyone come to together at this event, and the MDABC would like to wish all of our volunteers, clients, members, patients, and friends a lovely holiday season!

 

What are the benefits of Art Therapy?

art therapyby Polly Guetta

Some people are reluctant to try art therapy because they feel that they are not “artsy” or “creative” enough. Some of us may have bad memories of high school art teachers telling us we aren’t talented or that we are doing it all wrong (this was my experience) . It can be difficult to get past these negative associations with the art-making process and  jump into it again. But giving yourself the freedom to express yourself visually and to tap into your creative self can really help you to get your thoughts and emotions flowing in positive directions.

We’ve been offering art therapy at the Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC for the past year of so, and we have heard some great feedback from the people who have participated. In doing a little bit of research about the benefits of art therapy, I came across a top ten list which I thought summed up the research very nicely:

Art Therapy – Top 10 Benefits’ list:

  1. Art Therapy can provide a forum to express strengths and genuineness.
  2. Through viewing one’s own creation – one can improve the skill of self-observation.
  3. What cannot be said with words – may be more easily expressed through the art.
  4. Metaphors and stories emerge through the art – which can provide a ‘voice’ for material which may be difficult to express.
  5. Art Therapy is active & physical, fun, and stimulating.
  6. Emotions and art are closely connected; making art can aid in uplifting one’s mood.
  7. Making art activates the whole brain and can foster integration of emotional, cognitive, and sensory processes.
  8. Emerging and recurrent symbols expressed in the art can help to make unconscious material conscious.
  9. Art can make the hidden – visible in an external & tangible way.
  10. Art making provides an experience which is stress & anxiety reducing, relaxing, and decreases worry.

So, are you thinking about giving art therapy a try? Join us at the Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC on June 30th for a 3-hour workshop on Values-Based-Living Art therapy. Click on the poster below to go to the registration page.june30workshop

 

Get Involved in MDABC’s First Ever Photo Contest Fundraiser!

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to enjoy taking photos of the beautiful things that nature offers us everyday. So, why not grab your camera or phone, take a few shots and submit one or two to our new fundraising photo contest? And then don’t forget to ask  everyone you know to DONATE to VOTE. All donations will go to mental health programs and services offered by the MDABC in BC. And of course, you could win one of three brand new I-pads donated by www.openbox.ca.  Click on the poster below to go directly to the contest page.

MDABC's First Ever Photo Contest Fundraiser

Winter 2016 Program Guide is Ready!

winter | treesThe MDABC’s winter program guide came out last week and it offers a variety of group therapy courses for people who are facing mental health challenges at this time in their lives. We have brought back our most popular courses including groups for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Depression, and Social Anxiety. People can choose from a variety of therapeutic approaches to treatment including art-based therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy.

In addition to returning courses, the therapy team at MDABC has also developed a number of new courses which we are very excited about.  These include intensive weekend skill-building seminars for depression and/or anxiety and a course designed specifically for younger adults on emotional regulation.

Get started on feeling better today -check out our Winter 2016 Therapy Groups here.

Can ART Really be THERAPY?

art

By Tiffany Pan

The calculator has just spit it out: 40.7 percent.  That’s the proportion of my life that I’ve spent with a mental health diagnosis.  Almost eleven years of wondering if I qualify as having a disability for various forms, of waiting for people to react to the word ‘bipolar’, of scheduling appointments, and counting out medications. It is a slog, a constant Grouse Grind, to keep myself functional.

The list of things I can do to keep myself healthy is long.  Medication. Meditation, and the varieties thereof: yoga, breathing, visualization, and so on.  Counselling, individual or group.  Exercise.  Diet.  Sleep. Self-help books.  Religion or spirituality.  Socialization.  Coping skills, like journaling, setting up emergency plans, distracting yourself, etc.  Treatments and therapies.  In my mind, I must be inordinately vigilant – the mental equivalent of a rigid soldier on laughable alert outside Buckingham Palace – so that my mood doesn’t slide in worrying directions. Keeping myself well takes much upkeep and mental discipline; self-care has almost always been work for me, and never fun.

And then I tried art therapy through MDA.  I’ve always been curious about art therapy, mainly based on enjoying art classes in high school and having occasional creative phases where I scrapbook, or knit, or draw for an hour here or there.  But art as restorative, art as healing, art as something other than pure diversion has never been properly articulated in my mind.

I will not say that art therapy has been a cure-all.  However, it has given me something that I had not even thought to ask for.  There is finally a method of self-care which does not feel like a chore to me, a practice whose value comes from its ability to make me forget that I’m even doing therapy.  It doesn’t feel like work to colour, and it’s strangely mesmerizing to create a mandala.  The tangible evidence of whatever I feel on a page is validating, and freeing in the sense that my inner world is no longer just inside.  I experience a sense of creation, which counteracts the way mental illness can destroy and chip away at my life.  The wonderful facilitators of my group have also emphasized the need to let go of creating ‘good’ art, to not adhere to what good art is supposed to look like.

The immediacy of putting pen to page can be amazing.  For example, I can scribble hard, angular marks to represent frustration.  And all of a sudden, I am better able to visualize my inner tension, and I have also simultaneously let go of my angst.  Sometimes the pieces have clear symbolic meaning to my life, and I’m surprised that I was actually able to express visually the ill-defined emotions in my mind.  Then there are art pieces that seem to have no meaning, random colours and lines that were the only things that I could think of to put on the page.  But that’s been a good lesson too – to just do something and not judge its outcome.

In other words, I finally realize that there are ways of keeping healthy available to me that I can actually enjoy and look forward to and which help me to feel more grounded, productive, and well.

Autumn Art Therapy at the Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC

Top left - Art therapy facilitator Demill Keevil Top Right - Art therapy room at MDABC Bottom Left- Some of the art therapy materials Bottom Right - Close-up of materials
Top left – Art therapy facilitator Demill Keevil
Top Right – Art therapy room at MDABC
Bottom Left- Some of the art therapy materials
Bottom Right – Close-up of materials

This September we began our inaugural art therapy group for adults entitled “Art Materials and Emotional Regulation: An Arts-Based Skills Group.” This course is a six-week experiential pilot project in partnership with the Adler University Master’s of Counselling Psychology in Art Therapy Program; sessions are conducted by student art therapists and arts materials have been donated by the community to reduce the costs for participants. It is being held at the Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC on West Pender Street in downtown Vancouver. I can report that the course is off to a great start!

Continue reading “Autumn Art Therapy at the Counselling and Wellness Centre at MDABC”