Art therapy helps Tennessee offenders improve social and cognitive functioning

Art therapy helps Tennessee offenders improve social and cognitive functioning

(L-R) Carolyn Johnson, Bradley Zahn, Cindy Thomas and Dorothy Nunn, along with four murals painted by Tennessee DOC offenders

At West Tennessee State Penitentiary, offenders have the opportunity to engage in Art Therapy, sketching and designing murals, a few of which are pictured in the photo above, for their housing unit. Each mural theme has to meet two criteria established by the Mental Health Team—the framework must embody aspects of the impact visual art has on healing and depict the benefits of nature imagery. 

This process, under the guidance of Corizon Health Recreational Therapist Cindy Thomas, allows offenders to utilize art as a form of mental health treatment. Evidence-based theories suggest Art Therapy targets treatment outcomes such as improving communication and expression, and increasing physical, emotional, cognitive and/or social functioning. We thank the Corizon Health team of Carolyn Johnson, Bradley Zahn, Cindy Thomas and Dorothy Nunn, for their outstanding work in treating offenders suffering from mental illness within the Tennessee Department of Correction.