Art Materials for In-Patient Psychiatric Consumers During Combined Art and Music Therapy Activities
Art and music therapy have been practiced for many years in the treatment of individuals with psychiatric illness. This series of posts will focus on patients in an in-patient psychiatric hospital, where consumers stay an average of 13 days. The male and female consumers range in age from young adult to senior citizens. The consumers are housed in separate units by gender, severity of illness or forensic status. One unit for more stable patients is co-ed. The patients are seen for therapy both on the unit and sometimes off the unit in an “art room.”
Music and art therapists often work at the same facility, but are likely to work independently when conducting therapy groups. Some art therapy directives may be effectively combined with music to provide a different experience or outcome. This series will explore the materials needed for five combined art and music interventions: drawing, using clay, creating mandalas and collages, and painting.
All of the directives discussed in the following examples can be done on the units, although there is an “art” room that some of the patients can visit for certain groups. Each unit has a dining room area with long rectangular tables. I do not recommend using tablecloths because they disrupt the surface and feel of the table, especially for drawing and painting. For this reason, most of the supplies are water-based and listed as washable to facilitate cleaning up the unit areas.
Music used for the purpose of providing a theme or mood is also very useful in making collages. Themed music might include songs for holidays or coincide with national events, sports or seasons. You might also use music for the way it conveys imagery, either through the lyrics or musical style. Many psychiatric patients seem to enjoy coloring, painting and working with their hands because it relieves them of the fidgeting associated with withdrawal from addictive substances. Collage art can result in very expressive objective outcomes or simply serve the purpose of the process of keeping hands busy.
Collages can be made of anything from material scraps, tissue paper, found objects to magazine pictures. Pre-cut materials are important for this activity with psychiatric consumers, but they should also be encouraged to tear out pictures instead of relying on scissors. Magazines may be available through donations from employees responding to requests placed in the hospital newsletter.
Water-based glues such as Elmer’s glue can be used without worry about toxic or addictive side-effects. Strings or ribbons used for collage should be monitored for length and not cut to be longer than what can be worn as a bracelet.
Stay tuned for the rest of the series when I discuss using clay and painting!