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Symposium Speaker Series: Self-Expression in Eating Disorder Recovery

The 9th Annual Veritas Collaborative Symposium on Eating Disorders brings together our community of experts and other nationally recognized experts to advance the conversation about the treatment considerations for diverse eating disorder populations. Our Symposium Speaker Series offers an opportunity to meet our keynote speakers and preview the topics that we will explore in greater detail during the Veritas Collaborative Virtual Symposium.

Karen Kuebler Veritas Manager, Expressive Arts TherapyKaren Kuebler, MPS, ATR-BC, LCMHCS, believes in the value of art therapy for people in recovery from eating disorders. She’s a nationally board-certified art therapist, licensed clinical mental health counselor supervisor, and Associate Clinical Director at Veritas Collaborative’s Child & Adolescent Hospital in Durham, NC. We recently sat down with Karen to talk about the transformative power of art therapy for eating disorder recovery and her upcoming keynote presentation, “Canvas and Collaboration: Self-Expression in Eating Disorder Recovery.”

Veritas Collaborative: One of the benefits of art therapy is that it offers patients the opportunity to express themselves without words. What are the limits of verbal expression and how can art therapy bridge the gap?

Karen: Many of our patients struggle with alexithymia, a subclinical inability to identify and express authentic emotions, and it can lead to intrapersonal and interpersonal challenges in their lives, especially while navigating recovery. Creative expression bridges the gap by providing an outlet to express emotions nonverbally. The process of creating art allows space for insights related to their eating disorder thoughts, body image distress, and perfectionism. It’s not unusual for words that were previously hidden or unacknowledged to emerge during this process.

Veritas Collaborative: The increased capacity for insight is a clear benefit of art therapy for people with eating disorders. What are some other advantages?

Karen: We all benefit from the therapeutic value of expressive arts – from music and visual art to movement, poetry, and drama. Nourishing creativity with expressive art therapy modalities can help individuals with eating disorders cultivate self-worth, build self-confidence, and find their “symbolic recovery warrior”.

Veritas Collaborative: How does art therapy fit into a comprehensive model of eating disorder care?

Karen: The healing process of creating art can be a conduit for nonverbal expression. Art therapists work alongside other members of patients’ care teams and thoughtfully select from a variety of materials and art directives that align with each patients’ individual needs and treatment goals.

Veritas Collaborative: Art therapy is an essential part of Veritas Collaborative’s treatment model. Can you tell us more about the Veritas Collaborative Recovery Wall?

Karen: Our Recovery Wall gives each patient the opportunity to leave their mark at Veritas Collaborative by painting a canvas. Patients choose the imagery and words that connect to their personal recovery journey. We display them in the hallway of our Hospital to provide glimmers of hope, empowerment, and reassurance to everyone who enters treatment.

Veritas Collaborative: What is the one thing you hope attendees learn from your presentation?

Karen: Georgia O’Keefe once said, “I found I could say things with color and shape that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no word for.” I hope that attendees return to their practices and communities with a deeper understanding of the value art therapy brings to eating disorder treatment and recovery.

Together, we can learn new ways to change the field of eating disorder treatment, for the better. Register today for the 9th Annual Veritas Collaborative Virtual Symposium on Eating Disorders to connect with leaders in the field, engage with our nationally recognized lineup of experts, and earn up to 26.0 continuing education credits.