Artist Portrait: Erica Curcio
“The Power of Art Therapy”
An interview with Erica Curcio LMHC, ART
“Art is what connects me to my clients” Erica shares. Erica is an art therapist based out of Boston, Massachusetts. Her primary clientele is individuals living with dementia both in residential communities and within their homes.
“Art is what connects me to my clients.”
Erica found her own calling to the arts through a sculpting class while in college. In this course she took on a project which embodied the concept that what you see on the outside, isn’t the whole story, you need to “get to know someone through their shell.” After school and after some self-reflection, Erica realized she wanted to share her artistic skills and help others – finding a perfect fit in art therapy.
Erica was drawn into the dementia community after her first internship within an assisted living community. She was introduced to a resident who had been a painter and they immediately shared a connection. From there, she felt at home working with elders and continued her career on that path.
Erica shares that her goal as an art therapist is to draw out her client’s strengths and really highlight how strong they are, and all that they continue to be capable of. She says her role is to “verbally witness” and validate their accomplishments both within their art and outside of their art. The use of art also allows Erica to empower her clients to make choices and be in control, something that can be limited after a person is diagnosed with dementia.
For some clients, especially those with whom she meets virtually, their care partner is present. For the care partners, Erica shares that it can be meaningful for them to see all that their loved one is capable of. As care partners, it can be easy to forget these strengths and being able to see them brought to life is so impactful.
Outside of a session, her client’s family members also report mental health benefits. They report that their loved one may remember that the day of their session is an exciting day and after the session they report decreased agitation and anxiety. Some clients enjoy working on a project throughout the week between sessions, which provides focus and engagement.
Erica expresses the inspiration that she receives from each of her clients; each client brings something new for her to learn. Her ultimate hope is to connect with everyone she interacts with, and art is what helps to facilitate that.
Photography by Rachel Rival Photography
Watch the Erica Curcio video below: