Los Angeles Art Program Gives Confidence to People with Epilepsy

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Studio E offers a unique opportunity this May and June for those impacted by epilepsy to socialize with others and open up honestly about their daily challenges through art.

Artwork created by past program participants.

There are others who truly have similar...trials as I do, and we gain so much from supporting each other.

Studio E: The Epilepsy Art Therapy Program is being offered for the third time for people with epilepsy in Los Angeles. Offered by Epilepsy Foundation affiliates across the country, Studio E empowers people with epilepsy to creatively express feelings related to epilepsy and connect with one another in a safe environment. As a result, the program yields beautiful and meaningful works of art that educate both others with epilepsy and the general public.

“Studio E has made a positive impact in the lives of many people with epilepsy and has provided a new way for them to express their feelings,” said Susan Pietsch-Escueta, Executive Director. “We are so pleased to be able to offer Studio E to people in the Greater Los Angeles area.”

The Studio E program will take place at the Westside Pavilion during the months of May and June. Each session will be led by licensed art therapist Susan Reichmann, MA, LMFT, ATR-BC. To learn more about the local program, visit http://www.ENDEPILEPSY.org or call 1.800.564.0445.

Elizabeth, a 2012 program participant, experienced isolation after her epilepsy diagnosis, but the art program helped her realize that “there are others who truly have similar …trials as I do, and we can gain so much from supporting each other.”

Program participants, art therapists, Epilepsy Foundation representatives and others have reported positive outcomes from the 2011 and 2012 programs. These accounts indicate the program has helped people with epilepsy express difficult feelings, become more comfortable engaging with others and build confidence. To better validate these outcomes, plans are underway to use Studio E as a platform to conduct research that may provide us with a more rigorous understanding of the benefits of art therapy.

“The Studio E program cultivates an accepting, non-threatening atmosphere where participants are empowered to take risks both verbally as well as visually,” said Phil Gattone, president and CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. “Honest conversations took place between participants through the course of the sessions, and by the end of the program, participants were more willing to articulate fears due to having epilepsy and the impact epilepsy has on their daily lives.”

Studio E is made possible through a partnership between the Epilepsy Foundation and Lundbeck, a pharmaceutical company committed to people impacted by epilepsy. The program was piloted in 2011 by four cities and expanded to more than 20 cities across the country in 2012. Participants with seizure disorders of varying severities entered the program led by licensed art therapists.

“At Lundbeck, we understand that living with epilepsy can be challenging and can sometimes feel isolating,” said Daniel Brennan, vice president of neurology at Lundbeck. “We’re proud to partner with the Epilepsy Foundation to give Studio E participants the chance to experience the opportunity to express emotions and connect with others in their community.”

With individual artist’s permission, works of art will be available for viewing at local and national venues later in the year. These showcases are intended to raise awareness and understanding of epilepsy. Works of art created as part of the 2012 Studio E pilot program can also be viewed online.

Without warning, seizures can happen to anyone at any age. When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they have epilepsy. Seizures do not all look the same and, according to the International League Against Epilepsy, there are currently more than 25 different recognized epilepsy syndromes affecting almost 3 million people in the U.S. and about 65 million people worldwide. Someone is diagnosed with epilepsy every four minutes and, this year alone, almost 200,000 people in our country will be diagnosed. To date, there are no known cures.

Established in 1957 as a 501(c)3 charitable organization, the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles is leading the fight to END EPILEPSY® and the burden of seizures. Our fundraising and community efforts support care, advocacy and education, today, while investing in research and hope for tomorrow. Visit us online at ENDEPILEPSY.org.

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Rebekkah Halliwell
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