Art Therapy Story from Akron Children’s Hospital – Part 2

Continuation for Art Therapy Story

In our last blog post, we shared with you the first part of a story about a girl who participated in art therapy. Emily Grabo told us this story in our past livestreaming season, The Power of Stories. Here is where the first part of the story left off:

“I was actually a little bit surprised  by that at first. I knew she was saying yes to our sessions and I had hoped that she was getting something from them but again, she was so quiet. She hardly said a word when we were together. And so I thought to myself, 

“Oh! Let me run down to the PICU and I’ll go check on her!”

So, I did. And that’s something that I think about a lot that really stuck with me.”

Second Part

Now we would like to share with you the second part of the story, hope you enjoy it! 

“As an art therapist, you’re responding intentionally and purposefully. From the outside looking in, it might look just like fun and it might look like crafts. Yet, there’s often a lot of clinical work happening on a non-verbal level. 

So, realizing that this girl was thinking about me was such a nice reminder of how she really was getting something out of our time together. I think we were really successful in creating a relationship that felt safe. It was consistent and she felt like she had some power and control. 

Now with other patients I think a lot about how you just really never know what’s being internalized or when it’s being internalized. Or even when it’s gonna show; when the seeds that you’re planting in your therapy sessions are really going to sprout.”

 

Update about this patient

“Here is sort of an update about this little lady: I was able to see her in the PICU and reassure her that I would always know where she’s at in the hospital and that I would still find her regardless of the floor. I told her we would continue to work together. 

I think that was something that really strengthened our therapeutic relationship.

 I had the privilege of working with her throughout her entire treatment and would see her family at hospital gatherings late. It would be just such a joy to reminisce of the time that paint spilled everywhere. 

Or when there was a glitter trail going down the hall behind us because we had glitter falling off of us. We were like a couple of fairies, spreading our fairy dust everywhere we went. It would just be so fun and just such a great experience to run into them and to see them!

I think one of the reasons that I wanted to talk about this young woman today was because I’ve had the unique experience now of seeing her older and going through treatment with her a second time. Unfortunately, for this little lady, her Neuroblastoma came back and she’s currently being treated for a second time. 

One of the things that I was so thankful for was that we didn’t give up, we didn’t mistake her silence for disinterest because she was interested and she was benefiting and now she’s back for treatment. 

We have a really solid foundation of trust and safety for the work that we can do together and it’s been really interesting. She’s older now, she’s now school age and has done school activities and fun activities from the last time I saw her in treatment. 

In our sessions these days she’s more chatty and she will narrate the art that she’s making. We can really talk more about the stories of her experiences at the hospital and her experiences at home. 

 

Conclusion

I’m just really thankful that I had that first experience with her and because we got to know the family so well. 

We now also support her older sister. I am able to see the little girl when she’s here inpatient for treatment. And I can see her siblings virtually. I provide art therapy, we have somebody here that does really cool creative writing and actually uses the power of story to help the sibling with the stress of treatment and all the worries that come with that. 

And it’s really just been kind of like a wonderful thing to see all of our services come together to support a family. I know that was just a story that I think will stick with me for a long time. So unfortunately I don’t have the ending yet because treatments are still underway but I’m hopeful for a happy ending! “

Thank you for reading!

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L. Samuel Gracida

L. Samuel Gracida

Samuel is Sam's Fans Operating Director and our primary blogger!

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