Helping People with Psychiatric Disorders in Work Sector Insertion

Project location: ITALY, Rome
Project start date: January 2011 - Project end date: November 2012
Project number: 2010-78
Beneficiary: Ambulatorio Psichiatrico-Psicologico Associato “Angelo Azzurro”

Timeline: January 2011 - December 2011 

During these first months, patients could experience a first attempt to create affective and emotional feelings often chaotic and repressed thanks to the Association's therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation program by means of creative workshops of art-therapy and goldsmith's art. Expressing oneself through art does not only mean to communicate something personal but also to learn how to do this by modulating instincts, emotions and thoughts. In the construction of an art object indeed there is a phase of inspiration and a processing phase of the materials. In the former phase we can see a decrease of the control of the Self which allows the unconscious contents to emerge. In the second phase the comparison with reality is given the major significance. These workshops are meant to be a therapy in which the main tool is the creative expression of the patient, coming from his or her dynamics. Like other relational therapies, this one foresees a setting in which behavior, artistic production as well as physical and verbal expressions must be taken into consideration according to the process or the dynamics in place. The creative expression gives shape to emotions through a concrete object. This helped the Association's patients with the improvement of their relationship with reality, with the stimulation of their creativeness, with the increase of their self-esteem and communication skills. Creative activities, then, turned out to be an essential aspect of the Association's patients' development.

The rehabilitation program carried out in the workshops kept in mind the patients' needs, their psychopathology and the goals set at the very beginning i.e. a change leading to a better ‘functioning' of those who are suffering from psychiatric disorders. The artistic act allowed the patients to approach their inner world so that they could associate emotions, memories and ideas. They also expanded the exploration of their experiences and thoughts. As a matter of fact they could know themselves through the expression of their Self in the objects they created . The master craftsman's sensitivity and experience guided effectively the patients' approach and integration process from the world of images to the creation of an art object without losing sight of the patients' capacity to tolerate a deeper knowledge of themselves.

The group work represented an important chance for the patients to socialize. Inside the group each patient could grade and modulate his or her relationship with the other members of the group. They related to each-other learning and following the rules of the setting which were essential to their effective social reinstatement and the betterment of their self-esteem.
In addition , the laboratories are closely connected with the outside - the link between laboratory and society was a primary goal of ours - as in this way the Association prevented the group from living apart and withdrawing into itself. Moreover these laboratories are representing for the patients the most ‘effective experience of reality'. Thus the production of an object is not an end in itself and it's not just the mere expression of the technical skills and creativeness of the work group or its single members but it represents, since the planning stage, a contact with an external interlocutor i.e. the potential customer. The patient explores the customer's needs trying to be useful and pleasant. The patient's satisfaction is fundamental to support his or her motivation, it can be immediate or be built up with the passing of time increasing the patient's self-esteem which is achieved by means of his or her role, working experience, and the creation of a personal identity.

The results achieved during this rehabilitation project , by means of creative workshops of art-therapy and goldsmith's art, led to the improvement of patients' relationship with reality stimulating their creativity and imagination and enhancing their self-esteem and communication skills. The objectives set by this project were satisfactorily achieved - Angelo Azzurro worked, taking into great consideration the dignity and the respect of the individual person, on the enhancement of life quality and on the social functioning. Creative activities turned out to be essential for patients' development allowing them to approach their inner world so that they could associate emotions, memories and ideas. As a matter of fact they could know themselves through the objects they created. Working inside a group represented an important chance for the patients to socialize allowing them to improve their interpersonal relationships. 

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