Creative Process Of Healing

By Tanya D'avanzo
Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - September 30, 2009
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Clinical neuropsychologist

Can you talk about the creative process of therapy and how you’re involved with that?

I function as a neuropsychologist and am not directly involved with the art therapy program, although there are many similarities with the process of adjustments after brain injury and the creative process. One of the main similarities is that it’s very important for adapting to a major life shift to be able to see something from multiple angles and perspectives. This is what someone faced with a brain injury is called to do in rethinking their sense of physical self and identity. I think both art and psychotherapy can really help to foster one’s resilience.

Could you talk more about your own talents and accomplishments with art?

As the daughter of a performing artist, I have always been drawn to the creative process. I was a dance minor in college, and started exploring the visual arts when I moved to Hawaii after graduate school. For the past decade I’ve been taking classes through the Honolulu Academy of Art, and I started showing my paintings in public venues this past year. I was honored to be included in the “Artists of Hawaii” exhibition at the Academy of Art this year, and currently have three paintings on show at the Kim Taylor Reece Gallery downtown.


Is art therapy limited to certain people or conditions?

I would say that some people take to the process of creating art more easily than others, but that everyone has the potential, and anyone can benefit from art therapy.

What is the Louis Vuitton Creative Arts Program?

This is a program that I really support because it’s so integral to our rehabilitation services. It’s a program open to anyone who has been an inpatient here at REHAB. They meet twice a week on the hospital lanai and all the painting supplies and the instruction are provided. People are able to paint how they want and what they want as a means of expressing themselves. We sell the paintings in an annual fundraiser called Art from the Heart, which will happen Nov. 4. Certain pieces are also displayed throughout the hospital and sold year-round. The monies raised go to benefit REHAB Foundation. The program really helps to form a sense of community. It also helps in perspective-building and challenges participants to see things in new ways. Participants can also feel good about giving back to others in a tangible sense.

The Louis Vuitton Creative Arts Program

Is the class limited to just painting or are there other art mediums?

It’s just painting right now, but I think any type of art is beneficial in therapy. The medium is really less important than the process.

What is your role with the Art from The Heart event?

I am a big supporter of the creative arts program and I refer many of my patients to it. As a fellow artist, I’m thrilled to support such an important program and the annual fundraiser that supports the art class. It really warms my heart to see a lot of my past patients overcoming depression and other challenges through the healing power of art.

What are the details of the upcoming Art from the Heart fundraiser?

This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 4 from 5-8 p.m. throughout most of the first floor of the hospital. We are really hoping for a record turnout and are expecting this year to be our best event ever. The event is free and open to the public.

I would also like to mention that last year was the first time we welcomed artists throughout the community to participate in the fundraiser.

We would like to welcome all of them back this year as well as others who are interested in mingling with fellow artists, displaying their best work and helping a great program at the same time. Interested artists are encouraged to call the program coordinator Tara Sullivan at 566-3790. We hope to see everyone at the big event!

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