Columbia-Montour Quarterly Vol. 12: April-June 2024

at the Hospital HEALS

by Nancy Bishop


Every day it seems like there are new headlines in the news about advances in medicine. Cancer has new treat- ments that offer long-term remission and even a cure. Diseases like tuberculosis that once might have had you locked away in a sanatorium have cures and vaccines to prevent them. New advancements in treatments and medications make diseases like diabetes manageable. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the treatment of mental illness. It’s now recognized as an illness that can be treated, and managed, not as something that people cause for themselves by poor lifestyle choices. Not some- thing that makes people need to be locked away from society forever. An exciting art therapy program at Danville State Hospital is making that healing happen. “It’s our job to treat the whole person,” State Hospital CEO TJ Burk told me when I visited recently. “Our aim is to treat consumers, help them with their recovery and then be discharged. We also teach them the skills they need to remain out of the hos- pital. When consumers leave here, they have purpose.”

throughout the hospital. The artwork allows participants to express themselves. And the pictures brighten the halls and rooms. When consumers see that staff and administrators at the hospital care about the place by having artwork around they think “therefore they must care about me,” Burk said. “The environment affects the psyche.” Knowing that Kelly Klock in the Psychology Department at the hospital had both her master’s and bachelor’s de- grees in art therapy and is a board certified and registered art therapist as well as a licensed professional counselor, Burk asked her to develop the art therapy program. Kelly reached out to Amy Shepperson from the hospital’s ther- apeutic recreation group to be the co-lead.

Consumers in the art therapy program create their own artwork, which decorates the walls


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