The Process in Practice


The Art Therapy Project recently celebrated its 6-year partnership with the Veterans Administration of Manhattan, its very first program partner, in a temporary exhibition of work by veterans of the Korean, Vietnam, and Gulf Wars, and Iraq and Afghanistan who are suffering from anxiety, loneliness, depression, and symptoms of PTSD. In an interview, Pio J. Cabada, LCSW-R, MPA, RDT, of the Outpatient Mental Health Clinic at the Department of Veterans Affairs, talks about the project.

What is your role at the VA?

I’m a clinical social worker and provide outpatient psychotherapy services for veterans for individuals and groups. I also do couples counseling and workshops for our veterans.

How did this exhibition come about?

In one my meetings with The Art Therapy Project, I was inspired by the calmness and peacefulness I felt in the studio where the veterans do their artwork. I was thinking to myself, “This must be what veterans feel when they are here. No wonder they love it here.” After a couple more meetings, I was still inspired by the atmosphere and suggested the idea to the TATP team and they, too, got the bug.

What value does the show hold for clients and others?

The participants are guided to express themselves using pencil and paper, water colors and other materials that allow insight to their healing, recovery, and wellness. The show also allows for encouragement to other veterans who are in pain, but screaming silently, to seek out help. I also see the joy in the clinicians’ and service providers’ faces when they see and hear the veterans they referred to the program speak about how helpful and transformational art therapy has been for them. My goal is to keep this going for a very long time.

What’s been your experience with The Art Therapy project generally?

Everyone is professional, committed, and compassionate. It is such an honor and a privilege to partner with the organization. I am most grateful.