Monthly Archives: May 2006

Art Therapy Helps Children Affected by Cancer

Art Therapy

From OncoLog, December 2003, Vol. 48, No. 12

Art Therapy Helps Children Affected by Cancer Express Their Emotions

by Karen Stuyck

Simple lines, bright colors, and primitive shapes give the artwork a decidedly childlike quality, but the scenes the young artists portray are disturbing—a floating house, a person jumping from a burning airplane, a sinister bee that drinks blood.

The art that these young patients and children of patients create is “a window into the less-conscious mind,” said Estela A. Beale, M.D., a child and adult psychiatrist and associate professor in the Department of Neuro-Oncology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The premise behind art therapy—using a young patient’s art for a psychotherapeutic purpose—is that creating pictures allows children to express what is uppermost in their minds more genuinely and spontaneously than they are apt to do in a discussion with the therapist. “What is really important is to let the children express themselves without any influence from an adult,” Dr. Beale said.

Pictures help the therapist understand the children’s perceptions and feelings about what is happening to them and explore possible alternatives to solving problems, Dr. Beale said.

Sometimes the child’s art expresses this information quite graphically, but often the young artist’s thoughts and feelings are “concealed, disguised, or expressed metaphorically,” Dr. Beale said. Continued…

Group Analytic Art Therapy (book review)

Book Fills Gap in Art Therapy Literature – OhmyNews International

Book Fills Gap in Art Therapy Literature
Providing both insight and encouragement

Ambrose Musiyiwa (amusiyiwa)
Published on 2006-05-20 15:10 (KST)

Group Analytic Art Therapy

By Gerry McNeilly

Jessica Kingsley Publishers

240 pages
GBP £18.99. US$24.95

Gerry McNeilly’s “Group Analytic Art Therapy” fills a gap in group art therapy literature on both sides of the Atlantic.

It highlights the deficiencies in group art therapy literature, and the sparseness of research in art therapy, in the United Kingdom.

The book reinforces the need for art therapy theoreticians and professionals to continue researching aspects of their profession and writing about their efforts.

It encourages them to reflect on their practice and to share those reflections with the wider community of professionals working in therapeutic enterprises.

McNeilly observes: “There is only one art therapy journal in the U.K., ‘Inscape,’ and this has published little on group art therapy … I’m aware of only two books that address groups specifically from a psychotherapy perspective: ‘Group Interactive Therapy’ (Waller 1993) and ‘Art Psychotherapy Groups’ (Skaife and Huet 1998), which covers a wide range of clinical settings from a number of British art therapists.”  Continued….

Schools use art to heal wounds left by violence | 05/15/2006 | Schools use art to heal wounds left by violence


Schools use art to heal wounds left by violence
Rondarius Smith, 13, sketched an image of Homestead Bayfront Park, where he goes to relax and think, as part of his school's 'Art for Peace' project.

A project at Campbell Dive Middle School confronts violence through art therapy in search for avenues toward peace and reconciliation. 

Every weekend, 13-year-old Rondarious Smith heads to the beach at Homestead Bayfront Park and gazes at the turquoise tranquility stretching before him. He sits daydreaming as the waves rush in, staring at the approaching ripples until they lap at his feet.

”It’s where I go to get away . . . It’s an escape from the violence at school and in the community,” said Rondarious, a sixth-grader at Campbell Drive Middle School.

He recreated his beach safe-haven in a painting emblazoned on a mural in the school’s media center. The artwork — and more than 100 more from other Campbell Drive students — is part of a project called Art for Peace, an exhibit that uses art therapy to address campus violence.

”Through art, the students were given an opportunity to express their intimate feelings on violence,” said Morgen Chesonis-Gonzalez, a clinical art therapist with the Miami-Dade school district. Continued…
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Arts in Cancer – Art Therapy

Written by Andrea Roane

Created:5/18/2006 8:06:19 AM

Last Updated:5/18/2006 1:28:50 PM

In a study by researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, cancer patients reported a significant reduction in anxiety and depression after an hour long session with an art therapist.

At Georgetown’s Lombardi Arts & Humanities Program, they believe encouraging a creative response to breast cancer helps patients get in touch with their emotions and it improves their quality of life.

Cancer survivors look forward to the therapy session – a few hours where they can relax their body, clear their mind and let their creative juices to flow.

“Let the spirit of friendship and whatever you want to invite today to help inform your artwork.”

Leslie Blackburn and Lisa Flaxman are reaping the benefits of the healing power of art. The two women are bonded by a common thread. They are both breast cancer survivors. Their friendship blossomed while participating in the arts and humanities program at Lombardi’s Ourisman Breast Center.

These days, they relish spending peaceful moments making “friendship dolls.”

Attention to detail is important to these budding artists when creating their fancy figurines. But Instructor Karen Gallant says it’s not about producing perfection or even making something good.

“I notice them giving themselves permission to play. They give themselves permission to explore and express themselves. And it’s interesting, as the process goes on, what they begin to talk about, sometimes very openly, and share rather very vulnerable feelings.” Continued…

Using Art as Therapy – Using Art as Therapy

Using Art as Therapy

by Doctor Tate

Say counseling or therapy to most people and the image that comes to mind is of someone in a quiet room, talking with a counseling professional, discussing problems. And while it’s true many counseling sessions do take that form, there are also a number of other counseling techniques that bring strong, positive results.

One such approach is using art as therapy.

Art really isn’t that surprising as a form of therapy when you think about how artistic people often talk about their art. Whether they express themselves through painting, music, dance or writing, artists frequently acknowledge the affect of their moods on their art.

Similarly, who hasn’t felt his own mood affected by an artistic endeavor — a song or piece of music that brings an emotional reaction each time you hear it?

A painting you’ve viewed that made you feel sad or happy?

Emotions and feelings have always been a part of the world of art. Many of the great works of art were produced under stress, out of depression and frustration, or as a result of a strong need to communicate. The paintings of Vincent Van Gogh are one strong example of this, Picasso’s “Blue Period” another. When we are dealing with stress and depression, for example, art can become a valuable tool used both to inspire and to serve as a medium through which our innermost thoughts and feelings can be expressed.

Nonverbal World

Art therapy is both art and therapy. It is the use of drawing, painting, and sculpture in therapy to help someone get to those inner feelings. Sessions are conducted by a trained therapist, but they differ from art lessons in that the process of creating is stressed over the finished product.

Developing artistic skills is not the goal and a person need not have artistic abilities to benefit from art therapy.

In art therapy, art is used as a meeting ground of inner and outer worlds. It can be a means to reconcile conflicts or foster awareness and personal growth. We have all experienced times when words just get in the way, or inadequately express what we are feeling. Moving away from verbal expression toward a graphic representation of we’re experiencing often yields surprising results and insights to our internal state. It is not unusual for unresolved needs or forgotten memories to surface spontaneously in the images produced. Too often, in this society dependent on cell phones, computers and TV, we underestimate the effectiveness of nonverbal communication.

There are other advantages to using art as therapy. One is that it gives a permanent representation of the situation, allowing the client and therapist to review what was expressed weeks or months after the session.

Creating art may also help someone relax and build a better rapport with the therapist. In more traditional counseling sessions, people are often anxious about what to say. Drawing, however, is often less threatening than verbal self-disclosure.

Yet another advantage of art therapy is that the therapist can use drawings to aid in the process of diagnosis and treatment planning. Progress in therapy can often be monitored by reviewing the changes in a client’s art work.

Art therapy programs come in a variety of forms. In larger institutions there may be expensive equipment such as canvas, easels and kilns. Such materials may be beneficial, but aren’t necessary. Some of the most therapeutic and rewarding sessions have been conducted using a broken pencil and a scrap of paper.

Some art therapy programs are conducted in a group setting, while other times the therapist may determine that individual sessions are more beneficial. Similarly, sessions are sometimes highly structured, addressing a specific issue with clear objectives. In other cases, a therapist may encourage more spontaneity, encouraging the participant to draw whatever he chooses with few, if any, suggestions from the therapist. Together, client and therapist will then attempt to interpret the drawings.

Many counselors believe creativity and imagination are important aspects of the therapeutic process. Art therapy has proven to be an ideal technique to tap into both. For more information on the use of art therapy, try a search on the Internet, or visit the psychology section at your local library or bookstore for the many books published on this topic.

Dr. Tate is a psychologist at Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, the nation’s oldest public hospital. Source:

Art therapy helps create sense of well-being

delawareonline ¦ The News Journal ¦
Art therapy helps create sense of well-being


The News Journal

The arts have always played an important role in Ruby Zimmerman’s life.

Born and raised in New York, she was exposed to a wide range of visual arts while attending the High School of Music and Art in Manhattan, whose sister school for performing arts was later immortalized in the 1980 film “Fame.” After graduating, Zimmerman became a professional dancer for four years. She then traveled to Tokyo to visit her brother and ended up staying for two years to teach dance.

When Zimmerman, 72, of Brandywine Hundred, was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, she turned to art to help her through the experience. After surgery and radiation treatment, she took up art classes at The Wellness Community-Delaware, which provides free support, education and activities for cancer patients and their loved ones. Though she rarely picked up a paint brush during the years spent raising her children, she found the sculpture, collage work and painting helped her channel her nervous energy — energy that would have otherwise been spent worrying about her mortality. Continued…

Releasing pain through art

Releasing pain through art

Program gives victims of violence a voice

Today Staff

May 2, 2006

Children’s art therapist Brian Myers poses with a tree painted on the wall and ceiling at the Friends of Abused Families facility in West Bend. Myers began painting the tree himself and then asked each child who passed through to paint a leaf on the tree. Friends of Abused Families provides shelter and education for families impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault.

Children who went through art therapy painted leaves.

Brian Myers holds up a chalk drawing done by a 13-year-old boy. The boy appears small and terrified as he stands less than an inch tall on top of the world. His mother peers up behind him, her head 10 times larger than the boy, hands high in the air. One side of her face shows the mother smiling, at peace; the other side her face is green, teeth are sharp, eyes crooked and hair wild.

After the boy finished his drawing, he told Myers the picture represents the way his mom acts when his father becomes abusive.

Myers is the art therapist for Friends of Abused Families. The boy participated in the children’s art therapy program that runs twice a week at the shelter while his mother sat in on the women’s support group. Continued….

Expressing their lives one page at a time

Expressing their lives one page at a time
For teens, it’s part therapy, part artistic expression


May 6, 2006

Ames, Ia.

— From the creative to the troubled, teens at Ames High School are working out emotions, ideas and artistic talents through a method now raging in popularity: altering books.

Students who are not even taking art classes have started showing up in teacher Michel Gude’s art room, asking to create a book. The spunky teacher hands them old, retired books from the school library, and from there, they can do what they’ve always been told not to — rip, scribble, paint, collage, burn and even staple — all over the pages and covers.

“You can express your feelings without being judged,” said sophomore Svelta Siguas, 15.

Her book is colorful and bright on the outside, with darker pages inside — it’s a reflection of herself, she said, as she showed it to Gude.  Continued….

Art Therapy in the news May 2006

Art therapy is gaining acceptance by nation’s health care
Detroit Free Press – United States
BY PATRICE M. JONES. Nancy O’Brien, who plays in hospitals to calm patients, also played at a recent Society for the Arts in Healthcare conference.

Jacob’s Heart moving to Watsonville
Santa Cruz Sentinel – Santa Cruz,CA,USA
And volunteers play an important part in the Art from the Heart program, a system of art therapy that differs slightly from the support group meetings.

Reviving memories through art
Boston Globe – United States
Art therapy cannot halt or reverse the progression of the degenerative brain disease, which gradually impairs the ability to think, remember, and communicate.

Releasing pain through art
Greater Milwaukee Today – WI, USA
The boy participated in the children’s art therapy program that runs twice a week at the shelter while his mother sat in on the women’s support group.

Art Therapy
Louisville Courier-Journal – Louisville,KY,USA
By Diane Heilenman. The power of art to reduce anxiety and reflect nature’s healing forces was part of the notion behind a series

Adult Day Care Holds Art Show
Jamestown Post Journal – Jamestown,NY,USA
The Art and Older Adults project is an ongoing art therapy program that has been made possible by the collaborative funding that was provided by matching

Brush with healing: Sympathetic to their fears, mural artist
Pittsburgh Post Gazette – Pittsburgh,PA,USA
themselves,” said Mrs. Goyak. She has a special motivation to do it. But the experts call it “art therapy.”. Nancy D. Rued, program

Art liberates WVW’s Ashton
Wilkes Barre Times-Leader – Wilkes Barre,PA,USA
The daughter of Margaret Barney and Daniel Ashton, she plans to become a psychologist and incorporate art therapy into her counseling.

Art therapy is gaining acceptance by nation’s health care providers

Art therapy is gaining acceptance by nation’s health care providers

Art therapy is gaining acceptance by nation’s health care providers

96% of hospitals invest in the arts to help patients

May 8, 2006



Even at a conference where artistic expression was around every corner, it was difficult not to stop and stare at Nancy O’Brien as she played her harp. O’Brien is not a nurse or a doctor but the face of an evolving health-care industry in which the serene sounds of her melodious instrument, poetry written by patients, even soft lighting and comfy surroundings are believed to be important parts of healing.

O’Brien, a 51-year-old music therapist from Joliet, Ill., could go on about her success stories for hours. Continued…..

All you will ever need to know about the arts therapies
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