Everyone handles stress differently. Some paint or have taken part in the
new coloring craze. Others may turn on a favorite song. The creative arts
are disciplines have been used at an increasing rate in Pediatric, Cancer,
and Mental Health units for their therapeutic benefits. According to
Appalachian State University, “expressive arts therapy is the practice of using imagery, storytelling,
dance, music, drama, poetry, movement, dream work, and visual arts together,
in an integrated way, to foster human growth, development, and healing.”
Psychology Today includes art and music therapy in the family of creative therapies, which
have been around for almost 70 years.
Lowcountry Transitions in-patient behavioral health has integrated creative
therapies into the client experience, thanks to contributions from team
members like Holly Slice. Slice, lead activity therapist for Lowcountry
Transitions, is a trained music therapist and certified child life specialist.
She has been with the program since it opened in 2014. A passion for healing,
a love of the arts, and her faith led her to pursue a career in music therapy.
As an activity therapist for Lowcountry Transitions, Slice is responsible
for coordinating group programs for clients including nutrition classes,
fitness classes, music therapy, and other creative activities. All 17
clients participate together in seven 40 minute sessions per day, three
of which are lead by Slice. Group sessions can be a challenge, as not
all patients have the same capabilities or willingness to participate
in the group. Slice uses her background as a music therapist to tailor
her session to the client’s needs at that time. “It’s
amazing how much music can affect our patients,” Slice remarks.
Music therapy takes the medium of music beyond enjoyment or entertainment
and combines it with research based therapeutic interventions. Sometimes
she allows clients to select and create live music to increase group cohesion
and promote self-expression. She may guide clients in songwriting to enhance
communication. At other times, Slice uses song lyrics as a gateway to
help clients open up. She mentions the song “Bridge Over Troubled
Water” to increase self-awareness. During a session using that song,
clients were encouraged to compare the lyrics to their own challenges
and identify their coping skills to overcome those challenges.
When not in group sessions, Lowcountry Transitions offers an outdoor area
where patients can safely be outside. While the area was designed to be
therapeutic, the 16 foot concrete walls were not initially well received.
“Comments were severe,” Slice recalls. “Patients would
state they felt like they were in prison.” Slice led the charge
in creating a solution to the problem and contacted artist Tricia Segar
from the Spartanburg area. After reflecting on the request, Segar agreed
to make the three hour drive to Charleston to paint a mural on one of
the concrete walls. She took the time to research calming images of the
Lowcountry. “Nothing said Charleston more to me than the beautiful
green marshes,” Segar said. “The goal of the painting was
to provide peaceful scenery in an outdoor space for recovering patients.
I was very gratified to have many of the patients themselves comment in
the process of watching me paint the scene that it was very comforting
and beautiful to look at.” Her labor of love was created in one weekend.
Now when clients head outside their reaction to the space is completely
different. The space is more inviting, with clients referring to the space
as “relaxing” and “beautiful”. Slice hopes benches
can eventually be added to the space so group sessions can be hosted outside.
Thank you to the Trident Medical Center Administrative team for supporting
the project, artist Tricia Segar for lending her time and talent, and
Holly Slice for advocating on our client’s behalf. For more information
on Lowcountry Transitions call 843-847-3010.