An essay by Dr. Jennifer Sasser, gerontology program director, was published in the International Journal of Reminiscence and Lifelong Learning in January 2015.
Art therapy alum Sharon Evers and her organization, Face in the Mirror Counseling, coordinated an art therapy project at an assisted living care facility – resulting in a mural that now graces the residents' dining area.
Excerpt from an article by Josh Kulla in the Wilsonville Spokesman, January 16, 2014.
Whether expressed musically, in writing or in ink or paint, art can be used to help people communicate, cope with stress and explore their own personalities. Doctors treating patients with Alzheimer's disease long ago recognized the efficacy of art and music in helping to ease its symptoms.
That's the background behind a recent art project at the Springridge Court assisted living facility in Charbonneau, run by art therapist Sharon Evers and Lake Oswego-based Face in the Mirror Counseling. Featuring the collaboration of seven residents from the facility's memory care unit, home to those in need of full-time medical care, as well as nearly a dozen other residents living in the assisted living wing, the three-month project was both spontaneous and highly evolved at the same time.
The end result is a collaborative painting measuring 6 feet by 4 feet. It hangs in the facility's dining room, where it shares a unique vision of Oregon's colorful heritage.
"There was great camaraderie in the process," said Evers, who typically works with seniors suffering from impaired cognitive function. "And one of the wonderful things about a group painting like that is the affirmations they give each other and the encouragement and praise, which is so important. Not a whole lot of that is going on at that stage of their lives anymore, so that's another benefit."
It's that kind of creative stimulation that art therapists use to inspire cognitive recovery in their patients, Evers said. She's run Face in the Mirror for 13 years and she's seen the process in action too many times to recount.
"It's a blessing to be able to participate in something like that," she said. "We have a natural tendency to be creative even though we might not think of ourselves as artistic. So (in) art therapy, what you're trying to do is create an area of safety where you feel comfortable trying something."
Sharon Evers earned a master's degree in art therapy from Marylhurst University in 2001.