All inpatients at Four Winds Hospital take part in Art Therapy. Ker Beckley, MS, LCAT (licensed creative arts therapist), Director of Art Therapy, has overseen the art therapy program and the art workshop at Four Winds for more than 23 years. The art therapy programs provide group therapy sessions several times a week for all patients in the hospital. The purpose of art therapy is essentially one of healing. The theory is that the art-making process is therapeutic in itself.
At the beginning of each group a healing environment is created. Soft music is played at a low volume. Large windows surround the sunlit space giving the patients views of the plants and woods outside. The patients are seated at a very large work table covered in clean paper. Patients are asked to take a deep breath and use one of the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills they have been taught—Mindfulness. Patients are taught to use the creative process to increase insight, cope with stress, work through traumatic experiences, and achieve greater self-confidence. The group sessions allow patients to practice using DBT concepts in a safe environment. They practice frustration tolerance, being in the moment, and being non-judgmental. The adult patients, who are judgmental of their own art ability, are encouraged to use "opposite action," a skill used to decrease painful emotions by engaging in action opposite to the emotion the patient is feeling.
An annual patient art show in the hospital’s conference center is displayed. Every patient currently in the hospital is encouraged to create an art work and exhibit it. The young artists act like museum guides leading family members, staff and other patients through the "gallery" and explaining the art work.