Many patients with cancer find it hard to think about anything but the uncertainty, depression and anxiety that diagnosis and treatment bring. Patients and family members may struggle to express their feelings.
The staff at Providence Regional Cancer Center in Spokane understands this and that’s why they created the Arts in Healing program. This program allows patients to express themselves creatively through art – and it provides an outlet for communication while healing.
What is Arts in Healing?
Arts in Healing is a free program offered to patients undergoing cancer treatments. It allows patients to draw, paint, sculpt, make jewelry or write poetry as a means to express themselves during this uncertain – and often frightening – time in their lives.
“Arts in Healing offers a distraction from the pain, depression and anxiety of treatments. It helps patients delve into a deeper place where strong emotions can arise. Art therapy can help patients work through their emotions,” says Ann Walker, Director of the Arts in Healing Program.
What If I’m Not Artistic?
Arts in Healing focuses more on the process than the finished product. The act of putting a paintbrush to canvas, without being concerned with the outcome, is often therapeutic.
A 50-year old oncology patient began making jewelry through the Arts in Healing program. “I always considered myself a jock,” she said. “Now I’m an artist!”
Making jewelry helped her focus on a new skill and find a new passion. She created beautiful bracelets for her friends and family and was able to teach her sister how to make jewelry, too.
“She learned a new skill and created a legacy through her jewelry,” says Walker.
The healing benefits of art therapy are numerous. Tapping into your creativity can help you cope with the often unpleasant side effects of cancer treatment. Studies show that art therapy lessens depression and anxiety and reduces the need for pain medication. Patients who participate in an art therapy program leave the hospital on average a day earlier and have more general feelings of well-being. “I look forward to this every time I’m in the hospital. It’s so enjoyable. It gets my mind off things. It helps me forget about the pain,” says one adult oncology patient.
Art Therapy Programs in Your Local Area
Art therapy programs are offered in the following areas: