Healing Through Art Therapy


It seems you can't set foot in a store these days without tripping over a display of coloring books and markers for grown-ups. Coloring for adults is all the trend this year. Proponents claim it can help achieve mindfulness, banish anxiety and calm your soul.

Art therapy takes the idea of a creative outlet to a whole new level. Rather than coloring in someone else’s designs, art therapy employs creative expression as a therapeutic technique. It can be especially helpful to people who find it difficult to express their feelings verbally or through interactions with others.

Popular forms of art include painting, drawing and sculpting with mediums such as paints, pencils, pastels, chalks and clay. Projects can be free-form or structured. The blog Art Therapy is full of ideas for art activities, from self-portraits to mandalas, cards and collage. The true benefit comes not from the finished result, but from the process of creative expression.

For people with cancer, art is often part of the healing process. Hospitals across the country – from the Cleveland Clinic to MD Anderson Cancer Center – use art to help patients and caregivers manage the symptoms of illness and cope with stress. The Art Therapy blog has a section devoted to cancer & art therapy. One recent article talks of the communal bond - between patient and caregiver, for example, or parent and child - that develops during the act of making art together.

Free Local Workshops

Opportunities for art therapy exist close to home. Russ Fagle, a former Ghosh Center patient and local artist, is offering Healing HeARTS classes through the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy in Cedar Rapids. These classes are designed for people with cancer or other serious illnesses, their caregivers and family members. Workshops are held on the third Thursday of every month from 6-7:30 p.m. and are free of charge.

This month’s workshop on January 21st will give participants a chance to paint a tropical seascape – a perfect project during these wintry days. To learn more, view the Healing HeARTS flyer or contact the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy at 319-350-1805.

Michelle LeCompteartComment