How Art Therapy Helped a Young Woman Find Her Way

By: Chanel McClary, Class of 2017

Sitting on the porch while the U-Haul pulls up. My mom is yelling at the movers to not break anything. Here we go again, another move. Back to NY.  Another fight.  Another U-Haul. My mom is yelling at the movers again, another move. Back to Philly.

This routine was very common for painter Tara Flambert.IMG_2514  

Flambert was born in the Bronx, New York.

She lived there with her mom until she was 6 years old then moved with her dad to Philadelphia.

“But I didn’t stay there; I got in a lot of trouble and moved back to New York with my mom,” Tara said.

Around 11 years old, Tara  moved back to Philadelphia permanently with her father and mother. Her mother decided it was better for her  family to live together in a bigger house.

“There was a lot of drama in my house when I was young,”Tara said, “It was me, my mom, my dad, and my two older brothers.”

“As a kid, as a teenager there was a lot of stuff that I didn’t understand because it didn’t happened before we moved there and the reason we moved there was because I got kicked out of school, I felt like it was my fault,” she added.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), moving to a new community may be one of the most stress-producing experiences a family faces. Frequent moves or even a single move can be especially hard on children and adolescents.

“I didn’t like myself for a while,” Tara confessed.

“My parents are the type of people who do not believe that anxiety or depression is real,” Tara explained, “It was either suck it up get over it.”

According to the website Web MD, early medical studies focused on “masked” depression, where a child’s depressed mood was evidenced by acting out or angry behavior.

“So that on top of me feeling bad, that made me feel worse”, Tara explained.

Tara then got kicked out of high school and had to be home schooled.

“Anything anyone said to me made me mad,” she said.

Tara used to punch holes in walls and throw her fists through glass tables when she got angry.

IMG_3030

“My parents sent me to shrinks, but it never worked out…I felt like they were not helping me control my anger”, Tara said.

Even Tara’s close friends could tell a change in her actions when moving from different states.

“She clearly became more aggressive, more standoffish and she wouldn’t really let anyone in either. She shut everybody out and used violence when she got upset,” said Amanda Khuu, Tara’s childhood friend.

“After a while my parents realized maybe there is something wrong and it’s not just her acting up,” Tara explained.

“I always used to get Tara to try to do something with her time. She was getting into a lot of trouble, especially physically,” Tara’s father, “I felt like she just needed something to do, something to keep her mitts to herself.”

Tara’s dad, Max Flambert is a musician who plays the guitar and the piano.

“I tried to teach her how to play the guitar and I think she still hates me because I tried to make her cut her nails,” Flambert laughed.

One day Tara got in trouble for fighting and had a meeting with the guidance counselor.

“She said I need a way to channel my anger and she asked me if I have ever tried drawings,” Tara said, “I thought of my older cousin and how he taught me how to draw all the Simpson characters and decided to give it a try.

Eventually she started drawing and one day asked her parents to buy her paint and canvas.

“After she started becoming more interested in painting and drawing I think she became more carefree and careless of what was going on around her,” Khuu said, “She stopped caring about the bad stuff. She stopped caring about what people think, she wasn’t angry anymore.”

“There was clear change in her attitude and the way she handled a lot of situations. The change afterwards was more of her being at peace with herself and with the world she lives in. She doesn’t seem stressed anymore and if she is she definitely doesn’t look like it. She’s definitely dealing with things so much better,” she added.

“When I paint or draw I don’t pay any mind to anyone is that’s around me”, Tara explained, “I do this thing when I pretend to be a character and draw whatever the person in my head would draw.”

Tara gets her ideas for her paintings by making each painting a different personality.

“It helped me be occupied to not worry about anyone “, Tara expressed, “I actually really liked it so I decided to take it seriously.”

Art therapy is a unique approach to depression treatment that helps you get in touch with yoFullSizeRenderur feelings and use creative expression as an outlet, according to website Everyday Health.

“From that point on it’s been just that. She paints. When Tara’s working, it’s like she’s in her own space. Don’t talk to her. Don’t ask her any questions. Just let her work. En este momento, ella está en paz (Right now, she is at peace),” her dad said.

Even though, Tara was in and out of school as a teenager she still continued her education.

“When I learning how to control my anger, it made me to want to help other people with their problems”, Tara explained.

Now at 21 years old, Flambert is a psychology major who attends Saint Peter’s University.

“It takes a lot to be a famous artist,” Tara said, “but I need to have another plan.. I figured this is one I’ll have to fall back on.”

 

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