Solstice Intern Inspires With Art Therapy

Matthew Schwartz

Matthew Schwartz moved from table to table in the Art and Wellness Studio at Full Life’s Solstice Behavioral Health. He sat with participants to discuss how to properly fold a paper fortune teller.

After the folding comes the testing. The day’s fortunes – after going through a series of manipulations and counting – offered advice for balanced thinking. It was a fun activity to prompt participants to think in terms of mind, body and spirit.

“He comes up with some very interesting projects,” said Lydia Shepherd, a Solstice participant. “I like him a lot. He’s also a very good cook and pays attention to what people can and can’t have.”

In a few weeks, Matthew will finish up his internship at Solstice Behavioral Health. Matthew attends Antioch University, working toward a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling with a concentration in art therapy.

He has taught art to troubled kids. He spent two years researching combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, which led him to learn more about traumatic brain injuries.

“Many people who experience TBI face significant challenges and stressors and trauma, which affects people’s identity and mental health,” he said. “I’ve learned through my practicum work how art therapy provides significant opportunities for growth and connecting with others through a nonverbal therapeutic experience.”

That led him to Full Life Care’s Solstice Art and Wellness Studio, where he has worked for the past nine months.

“I’m into art therapy and helping people with trauma,” he said. “You can see how it gives people more options. Art provides freedom of choice, and art therapy helps people deal with problems that arise from not being able to choose when you get food or when to get up.”

The art studio participants know they can count on Matthew, not only for cool art projects that guide their thinking, but he is also always available when things are tough.

“Matt is very helpful when I’m feeling upset,” Tim Bridges said.

“We know we can pull him aside and talk anytime,” Lydia said.

Solstice teams focus on the mind, body and spirit of the individual participants as they develop activities. The Art and Wellness Studio is a safe place where clients come to paint, develop collages, write poetry, and pursue other creative endeavors. Studio days also provide important opportunities for exercise and socialization.

Matthew is due to finish up his internship in December.

“Matthew has done a wonderful job in the art studio this year,” said Solstice Clinical Director Cricket Farr. “He has developed some great projects for our studio participants. His creativity has inspired them in art and life. They so enjoy working with him. We’re all going to miss him.”

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