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'It was emotional' | Brain injury patient learns to express himself with art therapy

“Artwork has a way of uncovering things we’re not aware of. It can be a way of taking a step back and seeing your situation and life from a different angle."

INDIANAPOLIS — For Richard Vue, every new day is a gift. He suffered a stroke 10 years ago as a 27-year-old. 

Ten years later, he can’t always find the words he once could, but that doesn’t mean he can’t tell his story.

“I was in the hospital for three months," said Vue. “That was the only thing I could do, walk. I wanted to walk so that maybe I could, not walk normally, but walk again. I’m motivated by doing stuff.”

RELATED: Traumatic brain injury survivors celebrate accomplishments at Brain Bolt 5K

Vue now expresses himself in a way he never thought he could - drawing pictures of his life and emotions during art therapy sessions with his art therapist, Barbara van der Vossen.

“Art is supposed to be fun, but as I went through it with Barb, it was emotional," said Vue.

“He came in saying, 'I am not creative, I’m not artsy,'" said van der Vossen. "Over time, first of all, [he became] an incredibly creative person and developing a vocabulary and comfort with discussing feelings and identifying feelings and expressing them through the artwork he creates.”

What Richard once thought was impossible, is now essential. 

“We all have problems and issues," said Vue. "Dealing with them is hard, but you can cope with art therapy.” 

“Artwork has a way of uncovering things we’re not aware of," said IU Health art therapy supervisor Ashley Hildebrandt. "It can be a way of taking a step back and seeing your situation and life from a different angle and that objectivity can help people gain a new awareness of their strengths and resources that they have.”