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Healing doesn’t just happen with medications, treatment, and regimens. It happens with art, too. Lori Caterini, a Registered Art Therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor, brings a different perspective to healthcare and steps towards healing. Through art, people can express themselves, and Caterini has the pleasure of assisting.

Lori Caterini is this week’s Racine County Eye Hometown Hero of the Week because of her commitment to caring for the mind, body, and soul of those participating in Art Therapy.

Becoming an Art Therapist

Caterini is originally from Ohio. She attended Cleveland State University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Fine and Studio Arts. Then, Caterini continued her education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning her Master’s degree in Art Education.

She found her way to Wisconsin when she began pursuing another Master’s degree. At Mount Mary University, Caterini earned her Master of Science in Art Therapy with a Concentration in Counseling.

She says, “there’s only about 60 Art Therapy programs in the country.”

She was drawn to the field because of her friend, Kathleen. In addition, Caterini has experience working in her own studio, teaching classes, and hosting summer camps. Observing her friend’s work and interactions with others inspired her creative journey to becoming an art therapist.

During her time as an instructor, she says, “I was witnessing what kids were doing with art. They were intuitive, insightful, and deep. It was personal work that was expressing things on a soul level, doing it without a prompt, just doing what was coming out.”

Art Therapy

With Caterini’s own eyes, she saw how art was making an impact. Art Therapy is a treatment that incorporates what Caterini says is “emotional, physical, and tackles it all in one process.”

Art therapy is an approach that incorporates different mediums such as drawing, painting, and sculpting. It is a therapeutic journey that can help people cope and experience healing. This form of therapy engages people differently compared to traditional verbal therapy.

As an Art Therapist, Caterini helps to heal. In addition, creating artwork may help individuals who are going through traumatic experiences. The Racine County Eye Hometown Hero currently works at Aurora Health Care. She provides services to patients in the infusion centers who may be experiencing cancer, long-term treatments, and stressful situations. Likewise, Art Therapists are available to those on an inpatient/outpatient basis at Aurora facilities.

“A lot of people are afraid to do art because they worry about failing,” says Caterini.

COVID-19 Impact

Like every other area of life, COVID-19 changed the way Caterini interacts with patients. While Art Therapists were not deemed essential, during the thick of the pandemic, a nurse at the Aurora Cancer Center in Racine says, “at times, it felt like we could have used her even more.”

Not even COVID-19 could stop Caterini. When she could not interact with patients face to face, she still found ways to provide comfort. Video chatting with patients became the standard way for her to assist. Also, creating art demonstrations via video allowed Caterini to interact with patients.

Nurses and staff assisted Caterini so that her job was possible. She says, ” I’m thankful for a place that is open to what I am doing.”

As Caterini has made her way back into the facilities, she’s had to make adjustments but still provides quality and personalized care to patients and their families.

Art Therapy Benefits

Art is something that can be created with an Art Therapist, like Caterini, but also on your own or in a group setting. For example, Caterini shares that a patient receiving chemotherapy and dealing with a cancer diagnosis was able to slow down and appreciate life more because of her time spent creating a visual narrative with Caterini.

In a pamphlet called “Expressive Art for Healing” provided by Aurora Health Care, it lists the following benefits of Art Therapy:

  • promotes relaxation for stress, anxiety relief, as well as pain reduction
  • expression of emotion during times of crisis or excitement through building images of hope and healing
  • helps individuals make connections that lead to self-understanding
  • adds to the re-creation of life, developing coping skills, and increased emotional stability

Who can benefit?

  • anyone
  • those dealing with illness, addiction, trauma
  • partners, family members of individuals who make be experiencing illness/trauma

Art Therapy at Aurora

Caterini describes this form of therapy as “wide-reaching,” and it’s true. However, no two experiences are the same. Art therapy takes place using multiple different mediums and is genuinely individualized. Art Therapy is available at the following Aurora Health Care locations:

  • Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center- 2900 W. Oklahoma Ave.
  • Aurora Sinai Medical Center- 945 N. 12th St.
  • Aurora Medical Center in Grafton- 975 Port Washington Rd.
  • Aurora Wellness Center- 300 McCanna Pkwy
  • Aurora Cancer Center– 6811 118th Ave.
  • Aurora Cancer Center- 8400 Washington Ave.

Support Art Therapy

Support can be given by the following:

  • Donate art supplies such as paints, markers, canvases, glue, brushes
  • Monetary donations are accepted
  • Donate bowling balls for future projects
  • Engage in the activity and services

Contact Jamie Cairo if interested in supporting art therapy or in making a donation. Contact her by emailing

Mental Health Awareness Month

Art Therapy is a great way to address mental illness too. Likewise, it is a great way to take care of mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this week we honor Caterini for changing the narrative around therapy through art.

The Racine County Eye provides other resources, check them out below:

Nominate a Hero

Just like Lori Caterini, there are other heroes working in healthcare. If you know someone making a difference, nominate them to be the next Racine County Eye Healthcare Hero of the Week. Contact Emma Widmar by emailing with suggestions.

Read about our other heroes by clicking here.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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