Raquel Chapin Stephenson, PhD ATR-BC LCAT
Dr. Raquel Chapin Stephenson is a board certified, registered art therapist (ATR-BC) and a licensed creative arts therapist (LCAT). She is an Assistant Professor at Lesley University as a core faculty member of the Expressive Therapies Division, in the Art Therapy Program.
Prior to joining Lesley, Dr. Stephenson was a 2010/2011 Fulbright Scholar to Estonia, where she taught in the Department of Applied Creativity at Tallinn University and continues to teach periodically as a visiting guest lecturer. Dr. Stephenson teaches in New York University's graduate art therapy program and has taught at School of Visual Arts in the graduate art therapy program.
Committed to improving the lives of older adults through the arts, Dr. Stephenson's clinical work and research has focused on a wide spectrum of older populations. She was the founder, clinical supervisor and program director of New York University's Creative Aging Therapeutic Services - a community-based program that provided art therapy to well older adults and those with dementia. She also worked on the geriatric psychiatry unit at St. Luke's hospital in New York City, and with programs for individuals with HIV/AIDS. She presents her work on the intersection of arts and aging and consults with emerging clinical art therapy programs nationally and internationally, and recently designed and implemented the first creative arts therapy program for older adults with dementia in Estonia.
Dr. Stephenson serves on the advisory councils of Arts for the Aging in Rockville, MD, and the Art Therapy Outreach Center in New York City. She also serves on the Review panel of the international ejournal, Creativity and Human Development, located in Devon, UK. Dr. Stephenson is involved with the American Art Therapy Association, and is currently serving on the Educational Program Review Board.
I am currently in Kyiv, Ukraine giving art therapy training to psychologists and counselors who work with refugees, combat veterans and older adults. Art therapy is in an embryonic state here in Ukraine, but there is interest and need, so I hope to return to give this training again. I will be presenting my work on arts and aging at the National Center for Creative Aging Conference in a few weeks, and in the Fall I presented my work on creative aging at the Arts and Health Australia Conference.
In September, I will be presenting some new scholarship that I am currently working on at the ECaRTE Conference in Palermo. I am especially interested in this new work, as I am exploring how historical and cultural differences influence the training, research and practice of arts therapists working inter-generationally, with a comparative look at USA, Estonia, Australia and Ukraine. I have found the post-soviet intergenerational experience especially intriguing in this context.
This article is based on a qualitative study that examines the creative experience of three women artists over the age of 70 to understand why art making is important to older adults and how it influences the aging process. Some guiding questions include: How do older women engage in making art? In what ways are the art making process and product important to them? How do developmental changes in old age impact the creative process?
This article is based on a qualitative study that examines the creative experience of three women artists over the age of 70 to understand why art making is important to older adults and how it influences the aging process. Some guiding questions include: How do older women engage in making art? In what ways are the art making process and product important to them? How do developmental changes in old age impact the creative process? The study draws from literature discussing aging and human development (Atchley, 1999; Butler, 1963; Erikson, 1959; and Tornstam, 2005), creativity and aging (Cohen et al, 2006; Fisher & Specht, 1999; Lindauer et al, 1997; Reed, 2005; and Simonton, 1990a), and art therapy (Kerr, 1997). The study involved open-ended interviews of the three women and observing their participation in an open art studio group.
The findings indicate that gaining an identity as an artist is particularly important to these women in negotiating their aging process, along with motivation, connection and legacy. The creative experiences of these women reveal that the interrelation of art and aging influences emotional and physical processes, which are evident in the artwork and creative processes of these women. These findings have implications for understanding how creativity plays a role in the aging process of older adults and for the design of therapeutic arts programmes for older adults.
Keywords: creativity, aging, art, identity