Komorebi Post-Many different cultures embraced creative expression as in using pictures, dances, and chants as healing rituals. In fact, art and health have been the center of human interest, although art therapy has been used clinically for more than a century- the connection between art and health and most particularly cancer has been the focus of much research, primarily in North American and European countries. Most of the research, present supported evidence of the positive impact on emotional distress cancer patients and their families suffer. Cancer patients living, fighting against, an/or dying experience intense psychological distress, fear, anxiety, and depression, according to psychology today.
Art in hospitals
Numerous hospitals and clinics have incorporated art therapy in their programs- as a complementary medicine practices- because of its distinct results “helping patients reduce anxiety, depression and even physical pain”.The MD Anderson Children’s Art Project (CAP) has given pediatric children cancer patients impressive results for the past 37 years. The Swedish Cancer Institute dedicates free art therapy programs to cancer patients who are hospitalized but also provide virtual help through, free videos and different podcasts as a physical, emotional, and spiritual care.
A recent study (Saw et al, 2018) at the Mayo Clinic with hematological cancer patients major improvements to mood, anxiety and perception of pain. According to Lesley university and from a neuroscience perspective, the benefits of engaging in a creative process promote healing as in body and mind connection. The management of stress, which is a major factor in the treatment of cancer and offering alternative coping skills through creative expression enforces the feeling of empowerment, hopefulness, and resilience throughout the process. Visual Art therapy is beneficial for expressing emotions that are hard to verbalize. Additionally, psychologists have begun looking at how arts can incorporate to heal emotional injuries, develop a capacity for self-reflection, reduce symptoms, and alter behaviors and thinking patterns.
What is art therapy?
Art therapy does not require the patient to be an artist or even good in art, any person at any age can benefit from art therapy, some say adult coloring is also soothing however it is not the same as art therapy. Generally, art therapy mostly includes three parts: “before any art is made, the process of actually making art, and then the post-art discussion.”
The creative arts give cancer patients the opportunity to explore meanings of the past, the present and the future and thus integrating cancer into their life story and associating a different meaning to it. The Therapeutic qualities of clay-work according to Sholt M, Tavron is “a powerful way to help people express these feelings through tactile involvement at a somatic level, as well as to facilitate verbal communication and cathartic release and reveal unconscious materials and symbols that cannot be expressed through words”
Helen Joly, a psychologist based in Paris, explains:
“I believe art therapy as a way of expressing what goes beyond words. When trauma or physical and mental pain is unthinkable and concerns than include body and vital sense, art is can reflect better than words on a different level than speech therapy, art therapy is raw just like illnesses of the body as cancer makes the patient go through all kinds of archaic feelings that are unthinkable in terms of words, that’s why it is so important to find another way to express oneself”
“The scissors in my painting has pink ribbon on it and it stops the ticking time bomb. Awareness is prevention. My great grandma has her breast removed, my grandma passed from breast cancer. My mother and I have been lucky to live in a time where prevention and awareness is all over us, the pink ribbon is everywhere, it reminding us to get check ups with complications.”