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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Therapy through the arts

By Laurel Messenger

Hula hoop in hand, Claire Arbogast is ready to heal the world through the arts.

As a junior, she created an independent study project through Fairhaven College for creative and healing therapy with the arts. Being her own subject of study, Arbogast is expressing and analyzing her emotions and then writing papers on what she discovers.

“Any time I notice a shift, a change in my well-being, before analyzing that emotion or addressing it, I just express myself,” Arbogast said. “I analyze how I felt before, during and after and how that affected my overall cognition. The main goal is to show that self-expression is important in learning to control our emotions and in affecting the way we perceive the world around us.”

With many forms of self-expression to choose from, Arbogast’s favorites are painting, guitar and hula hooping.

“I have a little notebook I carry around that I’ll write random thoughts in or draw a picture. I wrote a poem that turned into a song, or I will hula hoop. I express it and then I analyze it,” Arbogast said.

Arbogast said healing through the arts isn’t just painting or writing, it’s about expressing yourself in whatever form you want. The expression can be through dancing or listening to music — it’s whatever is going to affect the way you view the world, Arbogast said.

Arbogast’s career goal is to teach a creative therapy class where she can advocate that people should live their passions every day.

The class isn’t going to just be focused on painting and meditation, but will aim to inspire others.

“It’s more about sparking an interest. It’s going to be: Let’s go out and climb, let’s look at mushrooms and identify different mushrooms. I just want to spark an interest in everything,” Arbogast said.

Claire Arbogast expresses herself through painting. // Photo courtesy of Claire Arbogast

Arbogast said she wants to see people get inspired and see how it impacts them. Though she isn’t a teacher yet, Arbogast has already influenced her friend Jessica Todd.

Todd said she also enjoys expressing herself through painting.

“I paint every day now,” Todd said. “Sometimes a group of eight or 10 of us will get together and paint. That wouldn’t have happened without Claire.”

From a young age, Arbogast has learned to use art and passion to guide her through life. When she was a little kid, Arbogast said she would throw fits and her mom would bring her crayons and paper and tell her to draw how she felt.

Another person who influenced Arbogast’s life views is a family friend who is a painter. She was visiting one day back when Arbogast was in third grade.

“I never thought I was a good painter, and I expressed that I couldn’t draw and she goes, ‘Stop. Yes you can. You’re just not patient.’”

Claire Arbogast with her hula hoop in front of Fairhaven college. // Photo by Laurel Messenger

Because of this experience, Arbogast believes everyone can be creative and express themselves, they just need the patience to see what they can do.

She hopes that her class and project will bring her more awareness to her own actions and how she perceives the world and wants to carry that awareness into her future practices.

“If we thought more about being passionate every day and trying to live that, I think we would all be so much happier and more in tune with ourselves in this waking life,” Arbogast said.

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