As a person who struggled with ADD for most of her life, Anya Beebe is keenly aware of the healing qualities that creating art can have. She’s often used art therapy concepts—”imagery anchors” as she calls them—to overcome her ADD tendencies. Through her work as an art therapist and licensed professional counselor, she’s seen how art making helps others, too, even if they don’t consider themselves artistic.
“Imagery is the first language of the brain,” says Beebe. “Things that are sometimes hard to communicate often come out through the art process.”
It’s this idea that serves as one of the cornerstones of the Whole HeARTs Family Center (WHFC) in Centennial. Beebe founded the center in 2012 to give moms, dads and children guidance and information on a variety of issues that affect family and how it functions.
One of the most common issues Beebe hears about from parents is the struggle to rediscover joy in their life, particularly in their late thirties to mid-life. To help, she offers one-day Rediscover Your Spark workshops, once per month.
“After they”ve focused on kids for so long, a lot of parents forget what they used to love to do,” Beebe says. “Many people say, ‘I don’t have time”, but when they make time for themselves and find those things they love to do, they often have more time because they feel rejuvenated, are happier and have more energy.”
In addition, WHFC offers once-a-month Women’s Art Therapy classes, at which women create art in an open studio based on a topic. Starting this summer, there will be free one-hour parent information nights on topics like Internet safety, and two-hour parent-child creative workshops.
When it comes to kids, Beebe specializes in children who deal with anxiety. She tends to see more girls than boys, though she says it’s a big issue for both genders.
“It’s common that a girl feels like she is the only one worried at school,” Beebe says. “A girl might say she thinks people are thinking bad things about her. (In group classes), we can check in with her when she’s worried, and show that the other girls aren’t thinking those things.” This summer, WHFC will be offering Creative & Confident Girls—weeklong group classes for 2½ to 3 hours, focusing on art and self esteem.
Beebe’s one-on-one therapy sessions are shorter-term, and she teaches parents the methods she uses. “I”ve worked with some that within one session are over their worries,” she says. “I give parents a lot of homework to get things moving faster. I believe strongly in giving parents and children solutions.”
How Families Can Help:
Sign up on the website for the Whole HeARTs newsletter for upcoming class details and free offerings. Donations of all types of paint and glue are always welcome. Adult volunteers can be used to assist with certain classes or prepare art supplies before classes. See the website for a volunteer application.