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Swope Health holds virtual art therapy for behavioral health clients

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Posted at 8:51 AM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 11:08:06-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At Swope Health, an art therapy program designed to help adults with their mental health, is taking its efforts virtually to serve those who need it.

The program serves adults who have severe and persistent mental illnesses.

"We try to teach in our psychosocial groups, about routine and people having a schedule. And so being able to keep this group in their lives has been very important, just to have that face to face contact and be able to see someone that they're used to seeing on a regular basis is so important," Social Worker, Jennifer Munroe said. "And not just their doctor, or their case manager, but someone who they consider an ally, as we all are but just that that they really have an outlet and a way to express themselves and something to keep their time occupied so they're not leaving their home."

Clients work on a variety of techniques such as drawing and three dimensional projects with their teacher, Ms. Carolyn Graves.

She says it's been an adjustment going from in person to virtual, but says she's making it work.

"I have to kind of manipulate the camera on the laptop so they can see what my hands are doing you know but it’s coming together," graves said. "It’s coming together and they’re excited."

Munroe say this new way of keeping the class going, allows their clients to continue that daily social activity in their homes.

"One of the things we do find is some of the people we serve don’t fully grasp what the situation is and if I want to leave, what’s keeping me here and so this is something to kind of keep occupied time so I’m not bored and thinking oh I’ll venture out," Social Worker, Jennifer Munroe said. "

Graves will actually deliver items to her clients' doorsteps, so they'll have all the material they need for classes.
"If Swope didn't supply the supplies for them, they wouldn't be able to do it. They really can't afford the supplies, and the paper and the stuff we use," Graves said. "With Swope allowing me to drop all these supplies off to them, they're ecstatic! I just have to remind them, don't use everything, we're going to go step by step."

She says some will work on hours on their project once the class is over.

"This gave them something to do, this is a good coping skill," Graves said. "So I'm going to work with more craft type items, that'll take a little bit longer, and give them more to do."

Since the start of the program, Graves says it's been so exciting to watch how her clients growth in their artwork.

"I say to them, 'I thought you said you couldn't do it, I thought you said you weren't an artist," Graves said with a smile. "And then they smile and go 'okay, okay, I'm better than I was' and of course, any time you're doing something for somebody, there's that feeling you get back that you're doing worthwhile."

Swope Health does have an Amazon wishlist of supplies to support both Ms. Graves and her clients in her art therapy program.

Swope Health states if you’d like to support their art therapy program with donated art supplies or funds to purchase supplies, please contact Amy Kuhnlein, VP-Community Engagement, Development and Outreach at or 816-599-5666.

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