Thrive by IU Health

June 02, 2021

Trauma, military service, and travel – Art therapist brings a mix of experiences

IU Health University Hospital

Trauma, military service, and travel – Art therapist brings a mix of experiences

She’s worked with people who experienced trauma, and she’s served with the military stationed in the Middle East. Meet Linda Adeniyi, the newest art therapist at IU Health.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes,

There’s a sequence to therapy. It’s like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle. Linda Adeniyi’s life is also a collage of experiences.

Consider that she was born in Puerto Rico. She graduated with honors after receiving her first degree in graphic art and design. At one point in her life she wanted to be a gymnast. She served eight years with the Army Reserves, stationed in Saudi Arabia, and trained abroad in Korea and Germany.

At the heart of Adeniyi is a passion for service.

“People in the hospital often experience loss, guilt, and separation from family. There’s a resiliency there and so much that I haven’t been through but they turn to me for therapy,” said Adeniyi. She joins the IU Health CompleteLife team, providing comprehensive therapy with a focus on the body, mind, and spirit of patients and caregivers. In addition to art therapy, CompleteLife offers massage, music and yoga therapy along with support groups to patients at IU Health University Hospital and Simon Cancer Center.

Adeniyi’s focus is on patients with cystic fibrosis, pulmonary disease, and sickle cell anemia, along with those who are awaiting or have had organ transplantation. She also works with those admitted to the Medical Intensive Care unit at IU Health University Hospital.

The daughter of a 30-year Air Force veteran, Adeniyi lived in South Dakota in her younger years. She attended Crispus Attucks High School until it closed her senior year. She went on to graduate from Indianapolis’ Washington High School. During her high school years she was a cheerleader and member of the track team.

She started her career at Vincennes University where she received an associate degree in graphic art and design. She then continued her education at the University of Evansville where she received a bachelor’s degree in art therapy. She went on to receive her master’s degree in art therapy at IUPUI – among the first graduates in the program.

Her introduction to hospital art therapy was working in obstetrics and gynecology at IU Health University Hospital six years ago. She also spent 18 years working as a trauma counselor at Legacy House; a safe place that serves physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of adults and children who have been affected by violence. She served as the clinical team lead and art therapist at Julian Center, supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence. During her time at Legacy House Adeniyi also obtained her Masters of Business Administration. She took her last final exam the same week as her wedding to Julius Adeniyi Jr. They met at a salsa dancing class and have two sons Desmond, 28, and Iyanu, 13. They love to travel and have visited 36 of the 50 states, along with several international locations.

Adeniyi family photo

Her military service took her to some of those locations. She joined the Army Reserves when she was a student at Vincennes University. Her best friend joined her. This month marks the 30th anniversary of Desert Storm and Adeniyi is proud to have served her country – stationed in Saudi Arabia for nine months in 1990.

The sequences of life experiences, trauma, and exploration of emotions are what Adeniyi practices with patients.

“If you’ve been in an accident, or you’ve been through several surgeries, maybe you’ve been hospitalized through your birthday, your child’s birthday, or the holidays. There’s an anxiety of being in the hospital, possible depression, and when trauma happens the thoughts become fragmented,” said Adeniyi. “Art therapy helps pull those fragments into sequences. Patients can relax better when they have those sequences – a clearer picture.” Building art collages is one way she helps patients stitch together those details. She also introduces art techniques such as painting to help with pain management.

“A lot of the therapy I do is about assessing the patient’s thoughts and emotions – where have you been, where are you now, where do you want to be in the future,” said Adeniyi. “It’s rewarding to see how that becomes part of their healing process.”