Sex Rehab: Art Therapy


On the last Sex Rehab episode, the group was taken to an art therapy session. The walls were covered with blank paper, the floor with drop cloths and each person wore a hooded jumpsuit and eye protection. Each was offered the chance to help create their own piece of art by throwing globs of paint, mashed potatoes, glass jars, ceramic pots, etc. at the wall as they expressed their anger and pain.

[Photo: © 2009 VH1, all rights reserved]

Phil had some pretty cathartic moments when he addressed his pain about his mother’s death. Jennifer and Darren also had some very revealing moments where they expressed very raw emotions. And Kendra started to cry and said that it reminded her of her childhood home. Amber went all out in her struggle to free herself from her demons. She took off the hood and poured paint in her own hair. Here’s what therapist Jill Vermeire had to say about the session:

Jill: The art therapy was amazing for some of the patients, because it really helped them get a lot of their feelings out in a form other than talking. One of the defense mechanisms that a lot of people will develop is that they will shut down verbally. They’ll almost go into a pre-verbal state of mind when confronted with their trauma, which means they actually shut down to the point where they really can’t find the words. Especially if the trauma happened to them early in childhood, they’ll resort back to that developmental age they were at in their brain, because that’s where that trauma is stuck, in that developmental part of their brain. If someone has that kind of experience, art therapy can be amazing. I’ve seen amazing results from people who aren’t responding to just talk therapy. You give them some crayons, you give them some paints, you give them clay, and they’re able to really show you through their art what is going on for them, and the feelings that they couldn’t find the words for. So, I was thrilled with the art therapy. We had some amazing experiences with some of the patients. Phil had a really cathartic experience. Duncan had a great experience. [So did] Nicole. Kendra completely shut down, because it brought up the violence from her past, which she couldn’t tolerate. You almost see her go into a very small child-like state of mind. I get chills just talking about it, because it’s so moving. You don’t see Kendra who she is now — you see this little girl show up. It’s this terrified child, who has all of this violence going on around her, and just covering her face, and almost going to curl up into a fetal position. It’s really moving.

Be sure to go read the entire interview here. Visit Jill’s web site. Follow Jill on Twitter.

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