Papermaking has gained significant momentum in the spheres of Art Therapy and trauma intervention. As with other art-making activities, the act of papermaking allows populations affected by trauma with a means to process memories and emotion through symbolic expression. According to Art Therapist Gretchen Miller, "art-making provides a safe means for expressing and communicating traumatic experiences which often cannot be reconciled through verbal language."
The process of papermaking is beneficial in trauma intervention as it is a sensory based activity. As the hands and body are involved in the formation of paper, the individual is grounded in the here and now through soothing repetition.
The fact that this process begins with concrete steps and ends in the making of meaning is valuable in trauma therapy, as these steps provide containment, permission to safely share experiences, and opportunities to let go and create new paths towards healing and transformation.
Since first collaborating in 2009, Drew Matott & Gretchen Miller we have shared with the field of Art Therapy an interest in using hand papermaking as a tool for coping with trauma.
As this interest has developed, so has their engagement with art therapy communities around the world.
Therapeutic Benefits Of Papermaking
Helps decrease guarded & defensive response;
Begins with the concrete & ends with making meaning;
Empowers with control, strength & permission to explore the experience;
Sensory based process includes a mindful, here and now practice;
Helps create a new perspective.
Art & Transformation:
Transformation: an act or process where change takes place within an individual's meaning system through the creative process;
Transformation is often inspired by truth seeking, concern, or conflict;
Transformative change through art becomes important for self-definition, life meaning, and purpose.
Peacemaking & Papermaking features the papermaking process with a group of youth ages 6-12 as a way to explore & transform feelings about bullying into new sheets of handmade paper with messages of hope and peace.
Papermaking workshop with mental health providers in Glasgow, Scotland
Presentations & Handouts:
Art and Papermaking as Social Action: Keynote presentation by Drew Matott, Margaret Mahan and Gretchen Miller at the Buckeye Art Therapy Association on the topic of art as social action, focusing on lecture and visual content related to utilizing papermaking and creative expression as a cathartic process to give meaning, create transformation, and provide empowerment through releasing and reforming fibers into new stories and new beginnings.
Drew Matott & Gretchen Miller collaborate with art therapists to deliver arts and healing workshops for consumers; train art therapists to use hand papermaking with self-sufficiency in their work; and hold retreat-style workshops for art therapists to have the time and space to make paper for themselves. We also take on art therapy students for custom-designed internships.
She specializes in working with children, adolescents, women, and families impacted by trauma, homelessness, domestic violence, grief & loss, and mental health challenges.
Gretchen has helped develop Peace Paper Project coursework and workshops and provides consultation to art therapists and art therapy students seeking to learn more about the therapeutic qualities of making handmade paper as a form of trauma intervention, personal transformation, social action, and recovery.
Erin Mooney-Simkus, LCPC, ATR-BC, is an Art Therapist working at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital.
received her Master's in Counseling Psychology: Art Therapy from Adler School of Professional
Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in Illinois and a Registered Board Certified
Erin has been providing art therapy groups for
Veterans for the last seven years and has been collaborating with Peace Paper Project for the last six
years working with veterans to transform uniforms into meaningful works of art. Erin is establishing a
Healing Arts Gallery at Hines with the premier exhibit PULP featuring veterans' handmade paper.
Meredith McMackin became passionate about helping veterans heal from the loss and trauma associated with war following the death of her son in combat in Iraq in 2007.
She earned her Masters in Art Therapy at FSU in 2014 and will complete her doctorate in Art Education with a focus in Art Therapy. Her proposed research for 2016 will study the therapeutic effects of papermaking with student veterans.
Janice Havlena and Edgewood College art therapy students conduct papermaking and creative art workshops for community partners including individuals living with epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, older adults and children.
Robert Possehl, MFA, supports the art therapy papermaking initiatives as well as teaching papermaking and book arts studio art courses in the Art Department.
Transfiguration is a project directed by Art Therapists Amy Bucciarelli and Genevieve Camp, and paper artist Amy Richard.
In collaboration with UF & Shands Eating Disorder Recovery Center (EDRC) in Gainesville, FL, Transfiguration invites members of the EDRC to transform articles of clothing associated with the eating disorder into paper and more as a way of revealing the inner beauty and self-healing nature that is intrinsic to all human beings regardless of size.
Michael Applegate is a United States Navy veteran and papermaker who earned his Masters in Art Therapy and Counseling from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
In May of 2017, Michael presented his thesis exhibition Deconstructing Veteran Identity Through the Art of Papermaking at the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, IL.
Michael is based out of Oak Park, IL. He is currently focused on pursuing his career as an art therapist and starting his own portable papermaking studio to facilitate workshops for veterans and their families.
Rachel Mims, MS, ATR, LPC-I is an Army veteran and art therapist based out of Waco, Texas, where she directs Veteran Art Therapy.
The organisation provides art therapy and creative art services to veterans and family members in order to develop their creativity; improve their mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health; and ease their transition to civilian life.
Veteran Art Therapy offers Individual and group art therapy, psychoeducational classes, workshops, murals and community outreach.
Annie McFarland, M.S., ATR-BC is a Registered Board-Certified art therapist, educator, and visual artist living in Morgantown, West Virginia. She earned her M.S. in art therapy from Florida State University (FSU) in spring 2013, during which time she participated in several Peace Paper Project workshops. Inspired by the work of the Peace Paper Project, she entered the doctoral program at FSU in fall 2013 and has been investigating the use of papermaking for veterans to address trauma, PTSD, and veteran to civilian readjustment.
Annie is currently an Assistant Professor of Art Education and Visual Arts Therapy at West Virginia University where she teaches art educators on enhancing art education curriculum with therapeutic techniques and is also in the process of developing an accredited art therapy program at WVU. She hopes to incorporate papermaking into the programs at WVU and plans to continue researching the positive outcomes associated with papermaking modalities in art therapy settings.
Denise Wolf is a Registered Board Certified Art Therapist, Certified Art Therapy Supervisor and Licensed Professional Counselor practicing in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Area.
She specializes in working with people who have experienced complex interpersonal trauma and traumatic brain injuries through a lens of neurobiology. Denise is also adjunct teaching faculty at Drexel and Villanova Universities, teaching within the Master's in Counseling programs.
Denise is an off-center papermaker, using household supplies and found objects to bring papermaking to the graduate student community. She aligns the inherent qualities of papermaking with trauma theory and recovery through an art therapy lens. By identifying the kinesthetic, sensory, and haptic qualities of papermaking, art therapists learn to utilize these processes towards fostering a sensory-based integration that activates mind-body connections and creates a parallel experience for the process of transformative change integral in trauma treatment.
Larry Davis is a retired Navy veteran who has his Masters in Art Therapy from Emporia State University. In 2014, he trained with Peace Paper Project as an art therapy intern.
Through his Master's Project, Memory Painting, Davis has adapted the portable paper studio to use papermaking as form of coping with bereavement.