The Emergence of a Compassionate Heart

by Lea Sorli

This study illustrates how people living with dementia hold and can share the wisdom of elders. My focus is two fold: the value of art therapy with people living with dementia, and secondly the value of working with this population for training art therapists. This is retrospective heuristic art based research on the significance of the experience, the learning, and the impact of creating art with an elderly married couple both affected by dementia. The collected data was 21 weeks of art therapy session with the couple using only the art created by myself, the researcher. The results were distilled to an essence in the poetry. This research demonstrates the relevance of the life long process of developing skills and knowledge on sensitive ways of working, and how one’s emergence as an art therapist will continue to blossom long after training. The main idea that emerged in the research is that this was a learning journey for all of us – a simultaneous process.