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VA Maryland Health Care System


Creative Healing through Self-Expression

Peer Support Specialist Shirley Scott Maniece addressed the group of veterans and supporters while standing in front of the mural of art created by the veteran patients.

Participating Veterans created a mural of their collected creative efforts called “The Graffiti Wall” unveiled during a program that also included Veterans reciting poetry and playing guitar.

Monday, November 16, 2015
Creative expression can serve as a powerful force for healing. Shirley D. Scott Maniece, a certified peer specialist in the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Recovery Center (PRRC) at the VA Maryland Health Care System, knows this first hand. She wrote and performed, "SOCKS! Yellow Socks," a theatrical production based on mental and substance abuse challenges she faced as an Air Force veteran, which spurred her journey to recovery.           

Once experiencing the healing power and resilience that comes from creative self-expression, Maniece is now helping fellow veterans in the PRRC program explore their own artistic expression as one of the ways to foster recovery. She initiated the Lights, Camera, Action group, an eight-week rotating addition to the PRRC schedule. 

"Looking in the mirror and not just seeing myself, but seeing my fellow peers growing in wellness with me is confirmation for me," says Maniece. "I always say I want the rest of my journey to be the best of my journey, and it's good to know that I'm keeping great company along the way."

Other veterans keep her company along the way come to the weekly, 45-minute long sessions designed to explore various art forms to express what they find challenging to articulate in other ways. Participating veterans created a mural of their collected creative efforts called "The Graffiti Wall" unveiled during a program that also included veterans reciting poetry and playing the guitar.

"It's very confirming for me to see our veterans approaching their commitment to recovery from a new angle," says Maniece. "Some discover the hidden creative selves they have within, while others welcome the opportunity to return to a forgotten activity that they once enjoyed."

Participants in the group represent a cross section of military service branches and ages.  The PRRC program provides veterans an opportunity to define and pursue a personal mission and vision for his or her future through education, support and individualized care. Veterans in the PRRC program can identify his or her strengths, values, goals, and vision as they work on their own journal to wellness.


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