Art therapist Kathryn Schmidt joins Campbell River Hospice. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River Hospice brings on art therapist

Kathryn Schmidt says therapy is about process not the artistic activity

Grief can take many forms, and so, too, there are different ways of dealing with it.

One way that people are starting to use more frequently is art therapy, and the Campbell River Hospice Society has just added a regular art therapist to provide services.

“It’s a fairly new practice for hospice,” says executive director Louise Daviduck. “Art therapy is for children and kids.”

RELATED STORY: Hospice Build Team celebrates the official opening of Campbell River Hospice

Based in Courtenay, Schmidt operates Colour Wheel Art Therapy to provide therapy services to children, adolescents, adults and seniors with a variety of concerns by taking a client-centred approach.

“I do art therapy in a variety of locations,” she says.

Schmidt is an art therapist and certified counsellor, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Simon Fraser University and a Master of Arts in Art Therapy from Concordia University. She has worked with individuals with learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, AD/HD, opposition defiant disorder, anxiety and depression.

“Art therapy in its simplest definition is just the therapeutic of art to promote healing,” she says. “With grief support, it’s going to help with expression of all those deep emotions around grief and loss that are hard to verbalize, especially for kids but also adults…. It’s hard to put words to everything, so art can help you express in many different ways the depth surrounding a loss.”

For palliative care, she adds that it can also provide some relaxation or solace.

The therapy can take any number of forms. It can be painting or drawing, or it can be finding meaning in old photographs or even clothing to create outlets as memory boxes or collages.

“The goal isn’t to create something beautiful,” she says. “It’s in the process…. The focus is not on the activity but the therapeutic relationship.

Schmidt says she takes a humanistic, person-centred approach that has to do with the person’s goals when they come to hospice. For her it allows her to work in both the disciplines of psychology and art.

“It was a wonderful combination of the things I loved most, which was helping people and being creative,” she says.

Campbell River Hospice Society started offering some art therapy through a practicum student in art therapy, Leanne Longeway.

“Once she started, it really started to grow,” Daviduck says. “We started to get all kinds of referrals, for children mostly…. It really broke something open.”

With Longeway’s practicum ending, the addition of Schmidt will allow for some continuity.

As part of hospice, the service is free, and referrals to hospice can come from anywhere. Art therapy, of course, is just one of many support services available, so hospice will do an initial assessment to learn what method or methods will be best for each person.

Fundraising is key to supporting all of this work, Daviduck says, though efforts such the recent Soul Cycle team, which raised approximately $23,000 during on this summer’s Cycle of Life Tour, and the 100 Women Who Care fundraiser campaign earlier this year.

RELATED STORY: Campbell River riders have raised more than $20,000 for Vancouver Island hospice ride

For more information, contact Campbell River Hospice Society at reception@crhospice.ca or 250-286-1121.

The office is located at 440 Evergreen Rd.

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