Program Participant

Therapy That Doesn’t Seem Like Therapy

Studies have shown that art therapy can be valuable in helping those dealing with depression, anxiety, trauma, and addictions—and even some phobias. And art therapy has certainly shown to be a perfect complement to the outpatient therapy services and mental health treatment groups at CHD’s Psychiatric Day Treatment program in Springfield.

However, knitting, sewing, and crocheting groups have also been added to the program—and these sessions have proven to be an effective offshoot of the art therapy initiative on State Street.

Lourdes Conde, who has PTSD, anxiety, and depression, said that before she began attending the sewing group on State Street, she rarely left her home and she felt isolated. “I found out about the art groups from my therapist,” she said. “I decided to come here, I tried it and I liked it, and I’ve been here since.” She found that sewing relaxes her and relieves stress. “Sewing helps with my mental health,” she said. “When I’m sewing, it helps me focus. It takes me to a different world.” It is therapy that doesn’t seem like therapy. “After the ‘heavy’ groups, this is like a break for me to have fun,” she said.

According to Winter Osborne, a second-year student at the Art Therapy/Counseling graduate program at Springfield College—and an intern who leads art groups at CHD’s Psychiatric Day Treatment program, “the repetition of knitting and crocheting can really be meditative,” she said. It gives the mind a well-deserved rest from the hustle and bustle of life—and from your smartphone.

Seven of Conde’s cooking aprons were on display at the “Art Show on State” last August, when the Psychiatric Day Treatment program teamed up with our agency’s Adult Community and Clinical Services program for a day-long arts and crafts exhibit, complete with food trucks and live music at its offices on State Street. She was pleased, to say the least, when all seven of her aprons were sold to art show attendees.

“I didn’t think anyone would want them,” she said. “I was so surprised. It was a good feeling.” She added that having finished products to share with friends and family—and to sell—is incredibly rewarding. “Right now I’m making clothing for my granddaughter that she’ll have forever,” she said. “And I didn’t buy it—I made it!”

What would Conde say to someone who might be on the fence about trying his or her hand at sewing as therapy—who might say the skill is too difficult to learn? “I’d say, ‘You can do it.’ Anybody can do it,” she said. I’m not a professional, but the more I sew, the better I get.”

Conde said that having a safe space for talk therapy and art therapy has been invaluable to her—that the camaraderie she has gained from fellow group members has provided her with the social connections that were lacking in her life. “This is like my second home,” she said. “We’re not judged here. We understand each other.”