Health & Medicine

Art therapy is alternative healing option for many patients

Cheryl Benze
Cheryl Benze Photo provided

When we think of going to the doctor or receiving medical care, we often think of medicine, shots or a blood pressure cuff. When we consider the healthcare providers we’ll interact with, we often think of a doctor or nurse.

But there are additional tools that can aid in healing, one of those tools is creative art therapies. Many places, including UK HealthCare, offer creative art therapies.

Creative art therapies are a category of service that can include art, music, dance and other forms. These services are provided to incorporate arts-based methods and creative processes to address illness and disability and to optimize health and wellness.

Creative art therapies are more than entertainment. The goal of art therapy is to be engaged and provide patients with an opportunity to express thoughts, emotions and experiences in a different way. Art therapy is an additional healing option for patients, and the therapy is based on assessments, treatment planning and evaluation.

People of all ages and abilities can benefit from music and art therapy, whether they have previous experience in those areas or are trying them for the first time. Art expression can be used to address patient needs related to pain, anxiety, stress, fatigue and a host of other physical and mental experiences people have when they’re in the hospital.

Art therapists evaluate each individual’s needs, so therapy can be adapted as those needs change. Each person is given the opportunity to participate at whatever level is comfortable for them in each moment.

Music and art therapy are by definition provided by a trained and credentialed music or art therapist, music and art are available for anyone to use for health and wellness. Music can be used for relaxation, distraction or motivation. You can determine how music affects you physically by observing your body’s reaction to a certain genre or songs: Do your muscles relax or tense? When you determine the songs that make you feel good, create play lists to listen to when you want to elicit those feelings. When you’re in the hospital, notice the art, or lack of art, around you — how does it make you feel?

Creative arts have the power to aid in healing; you don’t have to be an experienced artist or trained musician to reap their benefits.

Cheryl Benze is the creative arts clinical coordinator in the Arts in HealthCare Program at UK HealthCare.