Art therapist helps children heal
By TARA HAWKINS for Smart
What inspired you to become an art therapist?
I had a great high school teacher who told me about the job. I researched it and then shadowed a therapist. I was so excited to find a way to use art to help people.
What exactly does an art therapist do?
Art therapists are trained in psychotherapy techniques. We use art media to help our clients resolve their issues. Instead of using words, we work things out through art and play. I do painting, drawing, mosaics and clay sculpting with the children.
Why are children involved in art therapy?
Most of the children that I see at The Lehman Center have been in foster care, suffered abuse or lost a loved one. They range from age 3 to 18.
Many children can’t express in words how they are feeling. Art is a very comfortable language for them to use.
The greatest part of my job is when I see how the art and play finally help.
What is the goal of your treatment?
Kids come in with all kinds of behavioral symptoms. I work with them to try to resolve their conflicts. It usually takes three to six months of therapy.
Before ending, we work with the family to decide if the child is succeeding in school and their home environment. We are looking for their behavior to be normal again.
What can you tell me about the Lehman Center?
The Lehman Center is in a very old building in downtown York. Our clients are mostly from York city, but not all. The center is best known for its crisis nursery. This is a 24-hour respite service for any child up to age 6.
Parents can bring a child in for up to 72 hours. The nursery is there to support families and help prevent child abuse. There are not many programs like this in the country.
There are also several parent-support groups and case-management services at The Lehman Center.
How did you make the waiting room more kid friendly?
Before, it was like an attorney’s office. It definitely wasn’t very welcoming to children or their parents.
With the help of a local youth group, we tore down the wallpaper and repainted the walls. Along with the staff, we painted an ocean mural on the wall.
ABOUT ANGELA LINEBAUGH
Occupation: Art therapist, The Lehman Center in York
Education: Bachelor’s degree in fine arts with a minor in psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1993; master’s degree in art therapy from Long Island University, 1997
Lives in: Lancaster County
Hobbies: Gardening, art
Community involvement: York County Gang Prevention Initiative
Forms of therapy: Angela sometimes uses puppets in her therapy sessions. The characters allow children to create a story that expresses their feelings. For instance, the alligator puppet is aggressive, so it helps kids express anger in an appropriate way.