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Artheals is a six week drawing course, one afternoon a week, for participants in Brain Injury Support Groups. Artheals was created and implemented by Joan Leal Carter and addresses many unique needs of these exceptional individuals.

Beneficial Social Contact. Brain injured individuals often lead extremely isolated lives. Artheals gives participants a means of connecting with their peers in the community. Real friendships can grow.

Remediation of Cognitive Functioning Deficits. The functional skills required to draw are cognitive, motor, and perceptual. When they draw, class members learn by doing. New and innovative techniques can be used to remediate cognitive functioning deficits as new skills are learned.

Enhanced Self Concept and Life Satisfaction. As participants develop proper drawing techniques through new learned skills, their self’ concepts and life satisfaction are enhanced. They think of themselves in new ways, and reinvent themselves, not as handicapped individuals, but as artists.

Enjoyment of Leisure Activities. Activities that improve functioning can be pleasantly based in leisure. Artheals is grounded in that principle.

Goal Attainment. A finished product, the art work, reinforces positive aspects of time spent working toward a goal.

Alternative Communication Skills. Brain injury often results in deficits that can impair a survivor’s language skills. Artheals assists in helping find another mean of expression.

Hope. Facilitated by Joan Leal Carter, a traumatic brain injury survivor and working artist, participants are exposed to a successful role model and have an opportunity to experience the healing power of artistic expression.


What Participants Say About Artheals

“Six years ago I was involved in a car accident which resulted in my sustaining a traumatic brain injury. The right side of my body was paralyzed, I lost the vision of the right side of both my eyes, and I lost my memory. All of my speaking skills … were lost as well.

All these years after my accident I have been very frustrated and resentful with God and society. People treated me like I was stupid or illiterate because they could not see my problem. I could not handle it any more. I was in denial, pretending nothing was happening to me. It was also too painful to deal with my inability to communicate or express myself. Besides this I thought I was alone.

Building a new life is a slow process, especially overcoming adverse conditions and the accomplishment of developing all new relationships with family and friends who don’t understand that I need to make adjustments in my life.

Last year I came to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to the Brain Injury Support Group. It was a wonderful experience to find other people like me! I joined the drawing classes taught by Joan Carter in the Rehabilitation Department. Joan is a professional artist too and a brain injury survivor just like me. I am an artist too and the support I received helped me change my attitude about life and face reality. For the first time I accept myself as a person with a disability and the love and compassion I received there helped me to deal with my emotional storm.”

These days I experience mental, spiritual, and physical healing. I am celebrating with my friends, traumatic brain injury survivors, like myself, the miracle of life!”


“Dear Joan-

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your class at the retreat this week. You have a wonderful way of bringing people out of themselves and having them participate and enjoy it!

I brought home the pages of designs you gave us, intending to copy them and use them to “free up” a bit before trying to draw or paint. I was thrilled to see that before I got to that, my husband, who has been right-side paralyzed since his stroke in 1999, looked at them with great interest. He was a right-handed artist before the stroke and has since done very limited drawing with his left hand. 

I copied one of the simple designs and asked if he’d like to try a few. … When I checked back, he had copied every one of the designs almost perfectly (left-handed, of course). I had no idea he could do that much.

I will be using these designs as art/communication therapy with him from now on. I thought you might want to let other caregivers know this is something they might try, too. 

Thanks so much.”