Using artistic expression to heal

Meet Merlot, a 4-year-old therapy dog ​​certified by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs with Joy Cromwell who opens White Mountain Expressive Arts & Counseling which offers expressive arts workshops, group counseling and individual clinical counseling. Julie Reif

BETHEL – Joy Cromwell believes creativity is important in our lives and she uses creative expression as a way to help people deal with anxiety, depression or trauma.

“Too often we treat creativity as something extra,” says Cromwell. “But getting in touch with your creativity helps you get in touch with your feelings in a way that’s needed to deal with mental health issues.”

His office, located in the Wiley Block at the top of Main Street, Bethel, across from Northeast Bank, opens the first week of March and will offer individual and group therapy.

Cromwell worked as an elementary school counselor, also teaching art and music, as an embedded position in Milan, NH. She also interned at Community Mental Health in New Hampshire, but wanted to open her own space to offer less conventional techniques, such as an expressive arts space and pet therapy.

“I want to help people who are doing well but not thriving,” she says. “Using art to access the subconscious mind, instead of just talking therapy, and animal therapy is also subconsciously calming.

Her specialty is trauma work and she welcomes people 16+, LGTBQ+, people dealing with trauma, or suffering from depression and anxiety – people who want to improve their lives.

On the first take, Cromwell says she asks a lot of questions, to get the big picture, to find out what’s bothersome. From there, they can choose what they want to work on, determine what they want to improve on.

“I also ask what creative outlets someone likes, something that’s very comfortable,” she says. “Later, we can add different modalities to deepen, to look at the question from another angle. It’s important to take time to spend with certain parts of yourself and allow that feeling to come through, to learn to be comfortable with it, to learn more about it. ‘What is this anxiety?’, ‘Where does it come from?’ »

Some forms of expression work better for some people than for others, whether it’s movement, visual arts or music. Some people like to write or do poetry or play an instrument, but those are all ways to examine what’s going on in the subconscious mind, she says.

“Expressive arts is more about the process than what you do or improving your technique,” ​​she explains. “It’s about giving yourself the space to look at your feelings in a less direct way, taking time to check in with yourself, to ask, ‘How does that feel?'”

Although she plans to offer group sessions that might meet for six weeks, or one-on-one workshops where people might just come, she wants to build a relationship with her clients and is looking for “a commitment to achieving a set of goals we set. with together.

“My belief is that everyone should have a counselor, like they have a primary care physician,” Cromwell says. “You have someone who knows you, so if a crisis arises, you have someone to turn to.”

Every other hour works for most people, she adds, but some may come once a month. It takes a few sessions just to understand someone’s story and set goals, she says.

White Mountain Expressive Arts & Counseling will offer after-hours appointments, to better accommodate people’s work schedules and accepts a variety of insurances. (A full list can be found on the Facebook page.) She also offers a cash rate of $100 for a one-on-one counseling session without insurance.

For more information, visit, call (207) 808-0373 or email [email protected] It can also be found on Facebook.

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