Several years of experience have shown us the therapeutic value of activities that foster creativityand talent, fighting the isolation and lack of self-esteem caused by mental health issues.
Our creative and socialization workshops are the Di Liegro Foundation’s most important asset. Our paint, theater, music, photography, cooking or sewing workshops help bring out the talent and potential that each one of us has. The workshops are based on a partly individual activity that however takes place within a group: doing, making, participating, while learning and getting to know one another. Many people are referred to the workshops by the Mental Health Centers of Rome; by psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers. Participation is voluntary. The people who join the workshop are those who have decided to be a part of an open community that includes volunteers, family members, and staff, rather than a formal institution.
In addition to art therapy, which has been held for several years, the Di Liegro Foundation has launched a pilot project: Fit-walking. A power-walking group to help boost both physical and psychophysical well-being.
The workshop is developed according to the actual abilities of its participants. Through practical cooking classes, participants learn the necessary skills to prepare food, in addition to learning about cooking utensils and vocabulary (whipping, mixing, beating, etc.) and, perhaps more importantly, incorporating healthy eating habits into their diet.
Participants have the chance to examine their eating habits and to compare them with others, the first step towards a new approach to food. The strong impact of advertising often emerges during the workshop. Learning about the properties and characteristics of raw materials, what they are composed of, as well as how they are produced, allows us to acquire a greater awareness of ourselves and the surrounding world. And of course, eating better helps to increase self-esteem.
Embroidery and sewing, “the small arts”.
The workshop aims to bring out the participants’ creativity, in an environment that encourages sharing, as well as moments of recreation. Over the course of a year, starting from the basic art of sewing a button with the help of a professional seamstress, participants create a variety of products, from bags, doilies, tablecloths, and scarves, to stage design elements for the theater workshop.
The sewing workshops allow participants to create handmade alternatives to the ready-made packaged objects that they are used to seeing, and which are often identical to many other products. It offers the possibility to satisfy the natural need to leave one’s trace, to regain and demonstrate one’s uniqueness and of course, being proud of it: “I made this!”
The final goal is to increase confidence in each participant’s abilities and talent.
The objective is reached by acquiring a useful “method” to develop self-discipline, all while learning a series of procedures and techniques; stimulating the ability to ask questions and form hypotheses; experimenting with problem solving strategies; connecting with others in a respectful, creative and fun way.
Fit-walking, or power-walking, is fast-paced walking aimed at promoting well-being, an everyday life philosophy that encourages socialization. It is the third year the Foundation includes this physical activity among its workshops created to support mental health. Maintaining a constant rhythm while walking gradually helps improve the ability to concentrate, as well as having a positive impact on one’s mind, body image, and self-esteem.
Among its objectives, is not only a healthy and active lifestyle, but also exploring the surrounding territory: an essential step towards independence, to help reach common places such as offices or meeting places. It represents yet another way to increase socialization, which is extremely important for people who have difficulty making friendships.
The workshop is held at the ASL Roma 2 Day Center in via Orio Vergani, where a Social Skill Training program has been introduced. The Fit-walking coach is supported by the Foundation’s volunteers, two nurses and a psychologist, who is also the head of the Day Center and acts as the group’s supervisor.
The photography workshop was born in 2013 from the idea of overturning the traditional relationship between photography, mental illness, and social isolation. In other words, instead of depicting marginalization and degradation, the perspective is completely reversed, and the camera becomes a means to connect with one’s own dimension, a way to convey experiences and emotions.
The project is divided into theoretical training classes, in which participants learn to use the camera with professional photographers, and practical outdoor lessons in areas of the city that have been chosen for their natural, cultural and artistic aspects. The workshop includes the creation and preparation of a photographic theme exhibition that is held in a public space, often within a museum.
As with all the other workshops, relationship building and socialization are fundamental, as is the creation of a close-knit group that works together on a common project.
The music workshop is the largest in terms of number of participants. It is facilitated by a music enthusiast with broad experience in musical performances led by mental health service users.
The name of the group is “Briganti pizzicato” and it is composed of the host and its participants, along with volunteers and young civil servants, as in all of the Foundation’s workshops.
The therapeutic aspects of the activity involves building relationships as a group, feelings and brain stimulation. Music is essentially a “social experience”, linked to rituals, ceremonies, and group activities. It is known that the first “emotions” to reach living beings are that of a sonic or musical rhythm; in other words, the beat of a mother’s heart. It is through sound and vibrations that our deeper emotional chords are struck. It is relatively common to observe aphasic subjects who cannot speak, but are instead able to sing.
The Briganti pizzicato repertoire is mostly drawn from popular tradition, but also from modern music, in particular that of Italian songwriters.
The group meets once a week at the Foundation’s headquarters, and often performs at festivals, conferences and concerts.
The Foundation’s painting workshop has been active since 2018. It promotes a form of artistic expression that encourages the recovery and personal growth of its participants from an emotional and relational point of view.
Painting intended as Art therapywas one of the first non-verbal therapeutic techniques to have had such a positive widespread response in the clinical field. It is currently used in many fields of intervention, from early childhood to rehabilitation, psychiatry, geriatrics, eating disorders, and supporting the terminally ill. An interesting aspect is the fact that there is a mediator between the user and the world around him or her: the artistic object that is produced exists in space and it is preserved over time. The contents of the individual’s inner world (dreams, conflicts, desires, needs), which are expressed through symbolism, are drawn or transformed into “actual images”.
This year, the members of our painting workshop participated in an interesting experiment: a collaboration with the students of the two-year “Art for therapy” specialization course at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. The initiative will result in the creation of an artistic project with the themes “home” and “living”, developed through different techniques, and involving the Foundation’s other workshops. The project will be exhibited in June.
The Foundation’s theater workshop started in 2006. The idea was to involve staff, volunteers and participants from different areas and backgrounds, therefore opening the door to dialogue, sharing, interacting, and addressing issues tied to loneliness, which is often common among people suffering from mental illnesses or mental health problems. In 2010, thanks to the contribution of the Province of Rome, the Foundation created a space to hold theater workshops through the “Prevenzione Mille” project: a tensile structure, or place for people to meet, express their talent, build relationships, and rebuild their identities.
The workshop features collaborations with professional presenters, actors or directors. Participants are asked to experiment with the techniques that the specific actor is specialized in: vocalization, verbalization, and gestures. Every year the activity ends with a performance in a theater in Rome. The performances are always original, based on new material, and every actor always adds something of his or her own to the show.