“Narrative Medicine: Healing the Healer” – an interactive Creativity Workshop for Healthcare Professionals

Back in September, September 3 to be exact, Bob Climko, MD, MBA  and I facilitated a Creativity Workshop titled “Narrative Medicine: Healing the Healer” for healthcare professionals.  This 3rd annual conference held by Georgia School for Addiction Studies titled ‘Keys to Change: Prevention, Treatment and Recovery’ could not have been more appropiate as our world adapts to changing paradigms in current economic, leadership, social and personal transformations in vision, mission and attitudes.

In healthcare, change is also occurring, albeit slowly.  But positive change, no matter the pace, is good.  Historically, Nightingalethe medical model – a world of scientific and technological breakthroughs to ‘cure’ human conditions – prevailed.  And the ‘art’ of healing the sick, utilitzing nature and the arts, and honoring human dignity – lost.  However, there is a stirring in healthcare to provide services that are truly patient centered and to focus on multi-dimensional healing.  And the concept of integrating nature, creativity and the arts in healthcare are a couple of these services.   Other terms for these ‘newer’ services are: complementary therapies, integrative medicine, alternative therapies, etc.  But, these therapies are not new…they existed since Hippocrates2the beginning of time.  Both Hippocrates and Florence Nightingale believed in treating patients as multi-dimensional beings by addressing the physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional realms.  They believed in the benefits of nature, lighting and the arts as important components to the healing process.

Active participation in creativity and the arts by patients, families, staff, healthcare professionals and the larger commUNITY encourages collaboration, harmony, tolerance of differing opinions and viewpoints, acceptance, acknowledges and appreciates the creative process, flexibility and patience.



Now, back to “Healing the Healer”  Creativity Workshop!

Purpose of the Workshop:

1. The use of the written word and art activity as healing interventions.  Through careful listening to one another’s stories through the written and spoken word, and process of art making and presentation, healthcare professionals (healers) may begin to reconnect with their own healing spirit.

2. To introduce, promote and utilize the concept of integrating creativity and the arts into clincal practice.

Description of the Workshop:

Two arts activites, writing and art-making, were chosen for participants (18 healthcare professionals) to tell and show why they chose to enter healing professions for their careers. The writing portion was  conducted by Bob Climko, MD, MBA and the art-making by Marti Hand, RN, MPA, Artist.  Writing, as explained by Dr. Climko, was the third ear.  Creating art accesses the soul and heart regions of the body.


(Healthcare professionals creating their masks during “Healing the Healer” workshop)


The healing professionals wrote poignant stories of particular clients/patients who they treated and left a lasting impression – these were the reasons why participants entered the professions they did.

In the art making activity, the instructions were to create masks representing their reasons to become healthcare professionals.  Interestingly, there was not a single person who followed the guidelines!  Rather, all the masks created represented their current physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional states.  Most participants explained their masks, and then told the story behind the masks…something I believe would not have happened without the art-making piece.

Active  participation in the creative process enhances collaboration, harmony, tolerance, acceptance, flexibility, and in this case – catharsis.


(Example of mask created by “Healing the Healer” participant)

By implementing creativity and the arts in healthcare systems, patients, families, staff, healthcare professionals and local communities all benefit:






Laughing Clubs

Art exhibits with work created by patients, families, staff and healthcare professionals

Drumming circles

Indoor and outdoor gardens

Art at the bedside for patients and families


3 responses to ““Narrative Medicine: Healing the Healer” – an interactive Creativity Workshop for Healthcare Professionals

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  3. Pingback: Physicians and Creative Interventions… « CREATIVITY IN HEALTHCARE

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