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Highland teenager learns to cope with arthritis through art therapy

Zoe MacBeath,13, has learned to cope with her arthritis through art therapy.
Zoe MacBeath,13, has learned to cope with her arthritis through art therapy.

A Sutherland teenager has learned to cope with the debilitating effects of arthritis through embracing her creative side.

Zoe MacBeath from Dornoch was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA), a condition which causes persistent joint pain, swelling and stiffness, as well as other complications such as eye inflammation.

To help her come to terms with her condition, the 13-year-old was referred to mental health charity the Teapot Trust’s art therapist Nicola Kennell.

Zoe says the therapy has helped her express her feelings of her condition.

She said: “Art therapy with Nicola really helped me to understand myself and how I was feeling about having to take new medication.

“My favourite thing about art therapy was being able to express my feelings and thoughts whatever way I liked. Some days I expressed my thoughts through art and other days I just said them out loud. Nicola was always really helpful and understanding.”

Zoe MacBeath and her mum Jen have praised the Teapot Trust for helping them as a family come to terms with her condition.

Teapot Trust is a mental health charity that provides support for children and families coping with long-term conditions by delivering art therapy.

The Trust’s professionally qualified art therapist’s work with children and young people like Zoe to better cope with their conditions, so that they can live fuller lives.

Zoe’s mother Jen said the project has helped the family come to terms with her daughter’s long-term condition.

Mrs MacBeath said: “Nicola helped Zoe to understand her condition, as she was struggling to come to terms with it.”

“Teapot Trust helped us as a family to understand how Zoe was feeling about having JIA. Zoe is now happier, confident and very open about her condition.

Zoe said: “Art therapy with Nicola really helped me to understand myself and how I was feeling about having to take new medication.”

More than 12,000 young people have been supported by the charity through art therapy during the charity’s 10 year existence.

Chief Executive Sarah Randell, said: “We have worked with vision and tenacity to continue ‘being there’ for the children and families who need us during the pandemic, moving our art therapy online.”

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