Creative arts therapy for people with disabilities

November 8, 2012

ITA is a program of the Music Institute of Chicago. The goal is not to train clients to become proficient in the arts but to use the arts as therapeutic tools.

Music, drama, arts, dance -- four arts therapies provided by ITA.

"It allows people to express themselves in a new way and to non-verbally communicate things that they're thinking and feeling that they might not be able to talk about normally," said Jennifer Rook, clinical director, MT-BC, LPC.

ITA offers individual, groups and family therapy throughout the Chicago area, both on and off site.

"Some people are coming to us with a specific issue that they're facing in their life, something that is challenging for them, so it could be something that is causing psychological disturbance or emotional programs... other people that we work with suffer from developmental disabilities, physical injuries, brain injuries," said Rook. "And together we determine treatment goals for them.

"While they may be drawing a picture playing an instrument or creating a story or dancing or moving with their therapist," Rook said.

Nicholas Oldenburg, 23, comes to ITA for drama therapy. Nich has Asperger's syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder. He works with drama therapist Keith Whipple, MA-RDT.

"What I work on with Nich is, Nich is an amazing individual because he has both disabilities that really work against his own social communication but at the same time he has this incredible drive to communicate with people socially and express himself creatively," said Whipple.

"Right now in terms of how it's going, I think Nich is really taking up that challenge in young adulthood each of his steps has meant new progress," Whipple said.

"It steers me into a positive direction. It gives me a more creative outlet, makes potential friendships a possibility, and lastly, I can meet cute girls," said Nich.

ITA's office is in Evanston, but they provide mostly offsite therapy. There is a fee.

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