There is a captivating acrylic painting hanging in the hallway of our Long Beach Headquarters to inspire clients and staff alike. The subject of the painting is easily recognizable – it’s the Statue of Liberty – but with a meaningful twist. Lady Liberty has transformed into a tree with many branches, proudly displaying leaves painted as the flags of many nations. She stands as a symbol of welcome and unification.

Steve Brosnac (middle) stands next to his award winning piece, “America is a Land of Immigrants,” along with his wife Carol Montgomery Brosnac, LMFT (right) and School Based Clinical Supervisor Madoka Urhausen, LMFT, ATR-BC (left) in the hallway at The Guidance Center’s Long Beach headquarters

The artwork was generously donated by Steve Brosnac and his wife Carol Montgomery Brosnac, LMFT, friends of our resident art therapist and School Based program clinical supervisor, Madoka Urhausen, LMFT, ATR-BC. Steve, a self-taught artist, believes in our mission at The Guidance Center as he personally understands mental health challenges and has experienced the healing power of therapy himself.

After working at UPS for 26 years, Steve was badly injured. His doctor diagnosed him with CRPS, a centrally acting and incurable nervous system disorder. In constant pain and unable to put prolonged pressure on his left foot, Steve was no longer able to perform the job that he had enjoyed doing for most of his life and became depressed.

In order to begin working through his emotions, Carol suggested Steve try drawing or painting. As a psychotherapist in Long Beach, Carol had witnessed the transformative healing powers of therapeutic art making with her own clients. Steve took her suggestion, even though he had never had any professional training in art, and found himself truly enjoying the process. What Steve discovered when he first began creating art was more than just a vehicle to process his emotional pain, but also as a way to relieve his chronic physical pain.

“[The creation of art] helps lower the perception of pain by moving your mental focus away from the painful stimulus. It is not simply a distraction, but rather a way to teach you how to relax and alter your mood, so the pain doesn’t control your emotional state.”
– Matthew Sloan, Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publishing

While painting, Steve explains “being in the flow” is a meditative state to where he can channel his inner feelings on canvas and escape the constant pain and burning sensations he experiences in his leg. During some painting sessions, he finds that he has even been putting pressure on his injured leg without experiencing physical pain.

“Simply put, I create and started to create art because the meditative benefits are the only escape from constant pain,” said Steve. “Art found me and gave me hope.”

Now Steve dedicates his life to being a benefactor of hope by sharing his story and his paintings with the world. He also creates commissioned art for individuals and families looking to memorialize an important part of their own journey.

Thank you, Steve, for inspiring us and the children and families we serve!

For information about art therapy for children and families at The Guidance Center, read this article or call 562-595-1159

“America is a Land of Immigrants” by Steve Brosnac

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