Therapeutic Painting (originally called Mneme Therapy – pronounced “nemma”) is a unique type of whole brain therapy that uses a combination of directed painting, arm movements, singing, story-telling, and praise to not only provide a pleasant experience for the individual, but to also improve the following: verbal skills, mobility, combativeness, special acuity and the ability to understand direction.
The therapy sessions are done one-to-one with the Therapeutic Painting Therapist and patient. A typical session consists of the following: an introduction, hand holding, singing a familiar song with a small amount of prompting for the patient to join in, simple instructional arm movements, figuring out if the patient is left or right handed, beginning directed painting, asking questions to prompt memories such as, “Did you remember your first time playing in the snow?” while painting snow, or, “Did your children like swimming?” while painting a lake. Once the painting is finished, the patient is asked to name their painting and then they once again go through the song and movements that they opened the session with. They also add praises, smiles and thanks to the patient as a session closer.
How do we know if the therapy session was successful? First and foremost these sessions are meant to be a rewarding experience. Every person’s journey with memory loss is different which in turn means there is no exact definition of success for any form of therapy during their journey. What we look for are signs of increased mobility, sharper verbal skills, lessened combativeness, enhanced special acuity and an improved ability to understand direction. If we see any of these after a session, it has been successful.
Mneme Therapy (therapeutic painting) was invented in (2005) by an artist named Noell Hammer Burns. Her and her husband, worked together to begin, Art Without Boundaries, a not-for-profit online association that teaches other’s about Mneme Therapy and how to perform it.
Since 2005, there has been a steady increase in the number of practicing Mneme Therapists and today there are over 40 practicing throughout the United States.