Do you know what your particular work is?
Have you ever wondered whether physicians believe in the healing properties of the creative process or even considered utilizing creative interventions in their professional work? A post written September 11, 2009, titled ‘Healing the Healer’ highlights one physician (Robert Climko, MD, MBA) who embraces and implements the creative process through the written word, also known as narrative medicine. The use of Creative Interventions in healthcare applies not only to patient care, but also healthcare professionals. In either case, engaging in the creative process epouses the Self-Care theory taught in nursing curriculums.
Here’s another physician who embraces and promotes creativity and arts activities. A family practitioner based at University of California, Gabrella Miotto, MD, MPH discovered the healing benefits of engaging in the arts through personal experience. In an article in a Family Medicine journal, Dr. Miotto states,
“What is clear is that healing is an inner process through which a person becomes whole, more individuated, though not necessarily cured, and that creative expression allows us to create meaning through our personal inner intuitive resources.”
With this newfound belief, Dr. Miotto and artist Laurie Zagon, introduced a therapeutic arts program for adult patients suffering from grief, anxiety or depression. The arts program is called ‘Bien Estar (Well-Being). Wanting to share her belief that engaging in creative interventions with her colleagues, Dr. Miotto presented a workshop titled “Creativity and Healing: An Experiential Workshop,” at the American Academy of Family Physicians Scientific Assembly and Wonca 2004 meeting.
By implementing creativity and the arts in healthcare systems, patients, families, staff, healthcare professionals and local communities all benefit by enhancing collaboration, harmony, compassion, tolerance, acceptance, empathy and self-care. Below are a few creative interventions worth considering…
Creative exhibits with work created by patients, families, staff and healthcare professionals
Indoor and outdoor gardens
Art at the bedside for patients and families
And now I leave you with this poem by one of my favorite poets…Rumi
Rules About Restraint
There is nourishment like bread
that feeds one part of your life
and nourishment like light for another.
There are many rules about restraint
with the former, but only one rule
for the latter, Never be satisfied.
Eat and drink the soul substance,
as a wick does with the oil it soaks
in. Give light to the company.
~Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)
translated by Coleman Barks
Email me if you want the bibliography.
Here’s another interesting article on the use of drawing as a diagnostic tool in assessing people diagnosed with lupus, aka, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). A qualitative study was conducted at the Medical University of Gdansk, Poland with 2 main goals. First, to examine the ways illness is perceived and experienced by patients with lupus and second, to assess the use of drawing as as a diagnostic tool.
But first, let’s look at some facts about lupus…
What is lupus or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)?
According to the Lupus Foundation in Washington, D.C., “lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect various parts of the body, especially the skin, joints, blood, kidneys”, heart, blood vessels, lungs and brain.
Lupus, like rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmunie disorder where the immune system cannot tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues. The immune system is designed to attack foreign substances in the body, but in lupus, something goes wrong with the immune system and begins to make antibodies that attack healthy cells and tissues causing inflammation, pain and damage to the body.
(Sources: Lupus Foundation, NAIMS/NIH)
And now, back to the study on the use of drawing as a perceptual and diagnostic tool in assessing persons with lupus. To summarize, the key points are below:
Asking patients to draw their disease provides a wealth of information they may not be able to express in words. The old phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ definitely applies here. This is helpful in developing more individualized treatment plans that take patients’ perceptions and attitudes of their disease into account. By actively engaging patients’ to take interest in their own treatment plans, the tenets of self-care and self-responsibility are more readily accepted by patients, thus leading to better patient outcomes.
Drawing provides valuable sensory and cognitive information to health professionals in understanding and treating patients with different disease conditions, not just lupus.
Note: email me if you want the bibliography
I was on a forum dedicated to integrating creativity and the arts in healthcare about a week ago. Someone inquired about research on the type of visual art suitable and appropriate for healthcare settings. To sum up the responses that developed from that simple inquiry, it made me think about the importance of developing a vision statement and the need to periodically re-evaluate the REAL purpose of arts programs in hospitals and medical centers.
All too often, the vision and purpose of why a program was initiated in the first place gets lost…to hidden motives, change in leadership, securing one’s position, time, etc. The arts are especially vulnerable to becoming snobbish, hoighty-toighty, and intimidating. This attitude and ‘air’ actually scares people from really enjoying and embracing art. You can see this going on when you visit some art galleries – people talking in hushed tones, tip-toeing around, staff with attitudes — don’t let arts in healthcare programs, especially healthcare galleries, get to this level. Now, not all art galleries are like this…there are some that are very welcoming and friendly. Art should inspire and move you, make you question, reflect, think and ponder – not intimidate you.
The purpose of arts programs can range from simple to comprehensive. From having a small gallery that rotates its’ exhibits or keeps it static to a full-blown fully integrated arts program, one that is part of the mission statement of the hospital system. An arts program that offers art-making at the bedside; rotating exhibits of patients, families and heathcare staff’s artwork which can include paintings, poetry, sculpture, ceramics, handcrafted works, transformed books, etc.; musicians playing on patient units, the main lobby, cafeteria, diagnostic areas, on the campus; comedians; dance performers; readers (people reading to patients); storytellers…
If the real purpose is to have a simple gallery, then fine, then that’s the real purpose and nothing more. By simply remembering the what’s, why’s and who’s of the arts program, the real purpose of the program will remain intact. Why was the program started? Whom does the arts program really beneft? What is the real purpose/goal of the arts program? Is the arts program attuned to the population it serves and the larger community?
For next week’s post, I want to talk and explain the differences between creativity and the broad category of ‘the arts.’