SPOKANE, Wash. — A program in the Inland Northwest is using art to heal in an effort to help people channel their artistic side and deal with emotional pain.
Counseling and Healing Through Art and Talk Techniques, or CHATT, has been around for just over a year.
The owner of CHATT, Tessa Groshoff, sees around 38 clients per week. Some clients just come to talk about their experiences and some are dealing with dementia, PTSD or autism.
But talking is just the half of it. Groshoff’s clients also visit to create.
Through art and conversation with Groshoff, clients like Aaliyah Ray are finding their way back following personal hardship.
Ray has been coming into CHATT Counseling for three years now.
“She built up my self worth and how I felt overall as a person,” Ray said.
Coming into the counseling center, Ray found a love for art.
"When it's inside of my head it sits there, meaning the way I feel and how I see things, but when I am able to get it out through art it's like I am literally releasing it and I can see it on paper, it's like it's physically leaving my body,” Ray said.
It’s a feeling Groshoff said is not uncommon with her clients.
"These are your thoughts, but when you bring them forward out onto a piece of paper, They become real,” Groshoff said. "And from that you can kind of go, this is what I feel, And you can show somebody and talk about it."
At the CHATT Counseling Center, in addition to art, Groshoff also utilizes music, yoga and talk therapy to reach clients.
“A lot of art therapy isn’t just talking through emotion, and impact, its about learning a skill that will balance in life also,” Groshoff said. “When they create something that they feel they did it gives them that sense of worth.”
Groshoff said the most satisfying part of the job is seeing clients she works with emerge after being held prisoner to their darkest sorrows.
She recalls the story of one of her previous clients who experienced this type of liberation.
"She sat down and started creating and drawing and it was as if everything just came out,” Groshoff said. "She said ‘I like this, it's as if all the darkness escapes me from my pen, and I am better.’"
It’s a feeling other CHATT clients like Ray can relate to. Ray said she would not have been able to get through three years of tough times without the art therapy.
"It makes me overall feel better,” Ray said.December 6, 2017