Kula Moore, a psychiatric rehabilitation specialist at The Menninger Clinic and a board-certified art therapist, combs through an oversized folder of her patients’ latest work to share with colleagues.
She lays out brightly-colored abstract drawings and flaming red pieces made with chalk pastels, markers, crayons and pencils on the surface of a table. Moore presents each drawing and shares what each patient was trying to express when they made each piece.
“Art therapy is not about making masterpieces or things that you would necessarily hang on your wall,” Moore said. “A lot of times the art people make is very personal and it deals with treatment issues.”
Moore’s evidence-based, mentalization art therapy groups at Menninger help her patients externalize their thoughts, emotions, feelings and relationships. Mentalizing helps patients connect with other people in their therapy group, the therapist and even with family and friends.
Moore starts each session by giving her groups a prompt. Sometimes she asks them to express emotions in a landscape, or she might invite them to represent a relationship that is important to them.
“Artwork is an accelerant to that process because they don’t expect to put as much on the page as they do,” Moore explained. “With our words, we can filter and we can hide and we can do more image control verbally than we can visually with art materials and paper. I think sometimes it is unexpected for patients—they don’t expect for it to be as powerful as it is.”
In addition to her roles at Menninger, Moore is the founder of Art Therapy Houston, an organization that provides art therapy and counseling services to children, adolescents and families. She is also working with a group from the United Kingdom to publish research that focuses on the difference between how patients understand visually as opposed to how they understand verbally. One of Moore’s patients in Menninger’s Compass Program, which serves individuals ages 18 to 30 who are struggling to manage the transition from adolescence to adulthood, found that art therapy unlocked feelings she had no other way of releasing.
“She came in with a lot of difficulties internally. She had a lot of difficulty expressing her emotions,” Moore said.
The patient made her first drawing with chalk pastels, filling an 8 x 10 page with fiery blasts of red, yellow, orange and black, surrounded by a large black border.
“She said that is how her anger feels, that it can destroy anything it touches and she is afraid of it and to let it out, afraid of it destroying her relationships and other people,” Moore said. “I remember perfectionism was a huge thing for her, so the fact that she pushed herself to use a more loose, messy material was a big step.”
After five weeks of working with the patient, Moore saw a shift in her art. Moore showed the group her patient’s final piece—a drawing made with markers that also included lightning bolts she added, using collage.
“The collage, I think, is interesting because it shows depth, how she used the cut and paste method,” Moore said. “It was consistent in what she was trying to represent—that there is complexity, that it’s not all bad. She can have moments of light where she feels like herself and lively again, which is what these bolts represented, versus the dark, which still exists. She’s still struggling, but the fact that she could recognize the moments where she could be fine, I think, is helpful.”
University of Houston@UHouston
RT @UHCougars: .@UHouston students! There is still 🕐 to claim your 🎟🎟!👇🏽😃👇🏽 https://t.co/i2JBnD3iIT
Crawford Co. launching bus service to Dublin VA for veterans https://t.co/0BKD1Mkf4F via @13WMAZNEWS
Hello. My little brother may be coming to your hospital soon. He’s 5, but still wears diapers. I’ll be with him, but I don’t usually change him. Who could I have change his diaper for me? Where will you change his diaper? Changing table?
@grandma_hockey Hi, Annie, we’re so sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, we can’t answer this via Twitter. Please contact our health information specialists at 1-877-632-6789.
How to help a loved one with #cancer through the #holidayseason: https://t.co/5ejIGWFy74 #endcancer
Charles George VA Medical Center Celebrates 100 Years https://t.co/ZpkEYKo0p7
When it was written in 1818, author Mary Shelley probably didn't realize her classic novel Frankenstein would reflect issues found in health care today. Dr. Andrew Childress explains: https://t.co/9AGXTEqjFM #ethics
New VA Secretary offers more support for Hawaii’s efforts to care for military veterans https://t.co/FJWL2DrzJu via @HawaiiNewsNow
MD Anderson Cancer CenterMDAnderson
This week, our volunteers have been busy bringing holiday cheer to our patients and their families. Our coffee cart volunteers have been serving up festive drinks, while Santa and his elves have been delivering gifts to our inpatients. And last night, our volunteers hosted a holiday movie party for our pediatric patients. Guests were treated to popcorn and a cocoa bar and got to decorate gingerbread cookies.Thanks to these special volunteers for all they do to lift the spirits of our patients and their loved ones during the holiday season. #endcancer
U.S. Department of Veterans AffairsVeteransAffairs
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps Veteran Staff Sergeant Russell Lee Slay. Russell served during the Iraq War.Originally from Humble, Texas, Russell enlisted with the Marine Corps in December of 1994. Russell served three tours with the Marine Corps. During his first tour, Russell was assigned to Delta Company of the 2nd Amphibious Assault Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.During his second tour, Russell was deployed to Iraq, where he participated in the invasion of Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. For his final tour, Russell was tasked with transporting units from Camp Pendleton around al Anbar Province during the Second Battle of Fallujah. On Nov. 9th, 2004, Russell was tasked to assist another unit in the clearing of a village after several members from that unit had been killed. Once the village was cleared, Russell and his fellow Marines regrouped at an intersection. Unknown to the Marines, the intersection had been presighted by enemy mortars.Russell and his fellow Marines were hit by a mortar shell, killing several members of the team, including Russell.We honor his service.
University of Houston@UHouston
RT @RealJoshReddick: @UHouston I 👀 some graduates... congrats!!! 🎉
Congratulations to Drs. Mary Estes, Bert O'Malley and Huda Zoghbi on becoming fellows of the @AcadofInventors. https://t.co/pQak8WOYA7 #NAITI
RT @Aiims1742: Startling numbers on the current & projected burden of HPV associated oropharyngeal cancer in US men, courtesy of Dr. Maura…
CHI St. Luke's Health@CHI_StLukes
Our team at CHI St. Luke’s Health–The Woodlands Hospital is filling our halls with Christmas cheer! Each department has decorated a Christmas tree that will decorate our first floor lobby before being donated to a family in need in The Woodlands. https://t.co/8aJw0jNHEw
Drs. Mauro Costa-Mattioli and Martina Sgritta talks to @BCMFromtheLabs about their discovery of a microbe-based treatment that reverses social deficits in mouse models of autism. https://t.co/kWziC910Ai #autism