Creativity Can Heal With Art Therapy

Creativity Can Heal With Art Therapy

You may have heard that creativity can be a cure…for the soul. Artists alike have used their talents and gifts as art therapy since the ancient times.

The known artist SARK said, “Creativity healed me. I don’t know that I could think of any word that I get more inspired by than the word healing.”

That is why the Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI is tapping that outlet with its art therapy program.

Since 2008, patients at their Continuing Care facility have been able to take part in Spectrum’s Expressive Arts Program – painting, pottery, jewelry making, creative writing, dancing and singing.

“We use the creative process to aid in the healing process,” said RaNae Couture, art therapy coordinator. “We believe that the arts help and that everyone is an artist.”

And the patients love it. There are about 50 regular patients at the Continuing Care facility who revisit the art studio, which is open Monday, Thursday and Friday.

The facility has a gallery where patients can display their art, which fills the walls. Patient art also lines the halls and the dining room at the facility.

We’re all creative individuals,” said Couture. “What we do is help them on how to be creative. I try to help them find the way they most enjoy doing their art.”

The patients who take part in the program have a variety of diagnoses’. Some are there for rehabilitation, some for long-term care and some need assistance with cognitive impairments.

The facility says any patient can take part in the program on their own accord, but some do it as part of their treatment -so it is very dependent on what the patient prefers to do.

“Patient-centered health care is becoming more important,” said Couture in an interview. “As you get to know them more, you can really help them by taking the time to listen and get to know what they like and working from that.”

Nurses and volunteers staff the art program which has been an enriching experience for everyone.

Susy Storm, a volunteer, is an art therapist who works one-on-one with a patient named Charlene Nash. The two have spent three months working together, making art and writing stories about Nash’s life.

“It’s wonderful for anyone to tell their story and get it out of their head,” said Storm.

Together, the two have written about five chapters worth of stories that center around Nash’s family and her life growing up. Nash also paints pictures that complement the stories.

“It’s very fun,” she says. “It’s like my dumping ground.”

When the studio is open, patients can come in and make any kind of art they want at their own pace.

Tonya Babcock has been a patient at Spectrum for approximately seven months after suffering liver failure. She began painting because it helps her memory, and said she likes surprising her family with paintings because they didn’t know she could be an artist.

Babcock has an entire wall full of her art hanging in the gallery, all of which is available for purchase.

The Expressive Arts program hosts an art show every June to showcase over 300 works of art. All of the finished art pieces are available for purchase year-round. A portion of the proceeds go to each artist, and the rest goes back into the program.

The Expressive Arts Program is also available at Spectrum’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Center and at its Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion.

Photo source and reference: