Today we celebrated the life of Don Jones (1923-2015), recognized as one of the pioneers of art therapy and a former minister at our own UUCE in the late 1980's.
At age 4, Don almost drowned but was saved by his older brother. He went on to become a gifted artist, and some of his art work was his way of dealing and working through this early trauma. As a as a “conscientious objector” during WWII, he was assigned to Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital where he noticed that art on the walls. He recognized that the people were not drawing random graffiti, but instead were working through trauma much as he had been doing with his own art. He said that they had no psychotropic drugs then and the patients were entirely without medication.
After the war, he settled in Rossville, Kansas near Topeka, and he came to the notice of Karl Menninger. In 1951 he joined the staff of the Menninger Clinic, a world famous psychiatric hospital that also included a school of Psychology on the grounds. At that facility, he developed the "Don Jones Assessment" in which he used imagery and structured questions for assessing and treating individuals. Jones came to Ohio to become the director of the adjunctive therapies department in Harding Hospital in Worthington, OH. And, for a time, became our minister.
Unfortunately, there are not many in our congregation now who remembered Don Jones. But Megan led a lively discussion on the value of Art Therapy. Art Therapy is very new, the founding of the Art Therapy Association was only 55 years ago in 1960. Art gives us a sense of connectedness. It is a unique expression of us in our individualit, and yet, it shows us how much we are the same. Art allows people to express things that are emotional without having to use words. Doodling is expressive, art is expressive, colors are expressive. Megan said that a common barrier to working with patients is that they insist that they have to talent for art. She tells them that you aren't a singing star, yet you sing along with the music. You are not a professional dancer yet you dance. Lots of people fish even if they don't win fishing tournaments. Anyone can doodle out some art... and if feels good to express yourself a little bit. As with last week's happiness discussion, sometimes you just enjoy the flow.
Doodle some art this week. Put it on your refrigerator.