Introducing Inspīr’s Art Therapist: Amanda Clears

BY: 

INSPĪR SENIOR LIVING TEAM

At Inspīr, we have a philosophy that embraces enhanced wellness and immersive experiences. We go beyond the traditional methods of care and leverage the power of art and music, belonging, family, nature, laughter, and more to bring about true wellness for our residents. 

There have been countless studies proving the positive link between the arts, and health and well-being through the years. We believe so strongly in the power of art that we made it one of our Nine Core Elements of wellness at Inspīr and even hired a full-time licensed art therapist, Amanda Clears, MPS, ATR, LCAT-P, CDP.

Molly Fisher, Director of Program Innovation and Education, told us, “Having the opportunity to have a full-time art therapist who can provide private docent tours and teach art techniques is vital to the success of our programming. Her talents and clinical skills mean that residents will always have an opportunity to be engaged, and her knowledge of each of them will aid her in creating programs that suit their specific needs.”

You don’t need to be an “artist” to reap the benefits. Just the act of being creative can help decrease everyday stress and anxieties, and can also help alleviate depression, increase positive emotions, and, in some cases, can even improve immune system functioning. And, participating in a creative arts class can help you form supportive relationships and friendships.

Participating in art programs is beneficial to all our residents but can be especially therapeutic for those with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Keeping the brain stimulated and actively engaging the mind can help slow cognitive decline and increase overall well-being.

We spoke to Amanda about what led her to pursue this path in life and how she will be enriching the lives of our residents. 

What inspired you to become a licensed art therapist? 

I was inspired to work with older adults after my grandfather developed Lewy body dementia. During the progression of my grandfather’s illness, I was taking an undergraduate course in art therapy. After class, I would visit him and implement into our interactions whatever principles and practices I had learned in the classroom. It was beautiful to see how much joy creating art brought him. He and I always shared an incredible bond, but our connection transformed into something more spiritual as he became less and less able to communicate as he once did. I witnessed firsthand the healing power of art therapy, and how impactful non-verbal communication can be, especially when words are not available to us. 

What was your prior related experience?

I followed my passions to Pratt Institute where I obtained a Masters in Professional Studies in Art Therapy and Creativity Development. During my studies, I interned at Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home and Mount Sinai’s Wiener Family Palliative Care Unit. After receiving my degree, I worked as an Art Therapist for the Hebrew Home at Riverdale while maintaining a private practice and providing numerous art therapy workshops for organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association and The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. 

What excites you most about the role you will be playing at Inspīr?

Within my role at Inspīr, I will integrate these therapeutic principles into all the daily experiences that are provided. I am so excited to provide our residents with meaningful connections, a sense of purpose, and the opportunity to live every day with intention. Throughout my experience, I have seen the benefits of art therapy and building a therapeutic relationship. For our residents, art therapy provides sensory stimulation, the inspiration for reminiscence, and a platform for personal creative expression and autonomy, all while reducing isolation and decreasing anxiety and depression. 

The conservatory, located on the second floor, is where we will be conducting the majority of our studio art classes for our Sol residents. We will be conducting art programming on all Oceana floors as well. The space is beautiful, with an abundance of natural light pouring in through the floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook our luscious courtyard. With live plants in the conservatory and the window to the outside world, nature plays a serene and inspiring part in the art-making process.

From formal classes on figure drawing, mixed media art, and sculpture to weaving and photography, our residents will build their skills and knowledge of a vast variety of artistic modalities.

As an Inspīr resident, every opportunity awaits you.