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During this season of thanksgiving, our Ready4Work clients focused on the benefits of gratitude during this week’s art therapy session. In the group session, participants looked at research that shows how giving thanks increases happiness and reduces depression. The group also discussed how grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly, identifying how being thankful can reduce aggression. Acknowledging other people’s contributions can also lead to new opportunities.
To put theory into practice, Ready4Work then clients took inventory of the many things they are thankful for. The group took those words and placed them on autumn leaves to embody the season of thanks giving. We then hung the colorful leaves of thanks on the Ready4Work classroom walls. The session had everyone smiling and talking about their many blessings, filling the space with warmth and happiness. It was a great way to get into the holiday spirit!
Implementing art therapy practice as part of our Ready4Work program helps achieve Operation New Hope’s goals of improved mental health and reduced recidivism for people impacted by the criminal justice system. Studies show that arts education can help those struggling with issues of self-worth, confidence and empowerment. The arts can encourage a state of readiness to learn by increasing self-esteem and developing basic communication and other essential skills. Additionally, there is ample evidence to suggest that the artistic process can provide a safe and acceptable way to express, release, and deal with potentially destructive feelings such as anger and aggression.
Displaying artwork, prose, and poetry provides returning citizens with the opportunity to engage in productive exchanges with the community before and after release and helps demonstrate to themselves and to the public that they are more than a number and should not be defined solely by the act that brought them to incarceration.
We hope you join us in building a practice of gratitude during this season of thanks.