Scrapbooking therapy helps loved ones cope with grief


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By OLIVIA GOUDY

Frick Hospital in Mount Pleasant, Pa., has long been the home to monthly support groups for those who've lost loved ones, particularly children.

With the launch of a new bereavement group in the form of a scrapbooking class in April, the Excela team is hoping to reach a new crowd.

“The focus of the group is allowing them to be creative and have a faith base to share. It allows them to appreciate that memory and create tangible projects to take away," said Kristy Walter, a bereavement counselor with Excela.

Organizers describe the group as an “art therapy-based group where individuals come to document memories and stories of their loved ones in a creative way of processing and coping with grief."

“The hospital can seem like maybe an unfriendly reminder because of a loss, but we hope they now see it as a welcoming area," said Robin Jennings, senior writer with Excela Health Marketing and Communications.

“It's a great location because scrapbookers generally come with a lot of supplies and things," Jennings, an avid scrapbooker, said with a laugh. “It gives you a lot of space to spread out."

But for those who don't have scrapbooking supplies, it's not necessary to go out and purchase them for the class.

“Our foundation supports the hospice and bereavement programs. They have funding to help with the purchase of supplies," Jennings said. “Don't feel you have to come with those resources."

“And it's never about having any kind of skill — that's definitely not the focus of this," Walter added, noting that artistic abilities aren't required. “It's about freedom for people to create and design — more of a freestyle — and making those memories come to life."

Walter noted that from an art therapy standpoint, the creative process “doesn't mean you have to be a master of everything."

“It just means you're being creative," she said. “It's all about being in the moment, processing things, and being creative with the materials in front of you."

Maureen Ceidro, another bereavement counselor with Excela, said they've had this class in mind for several years.

“We try to reach people in different ways. There's always our standard support groups, but it doesn't appeal to all," Ceidro said. “With this new class, they remember and recollect, and it's done in the context of a faith environment. We can help you process feelings that arise as you're working through the memories."

Walter said there's been positive feedback since announcing the group details. Prospective class members liked the close proximity, as compared to other therapy locations in Greensburg and Latrobe. They also liked the concept of art therapy and using the creative process to push them, Walter said.

In addition to their monthly support groups, Frick is also home to a Children's Garden that they've recently remodeled and relocated after last year's building expansion. Now located near the back side of the property, the garden has a walking path and benches for visitors to “come and find support."
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