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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Baker, MA

Art Therapy for Chronic Illness

When a person is diagnosed with illness, our first instinct is to focus on the physical health and alleviate the pain. In addition to the physical health, we should also keep in mind that these individuals also suffer emotionally.

Concerns about health can be a source of stress and anxiety, not only for the patient but his family and loved ones as well. The good news is, patients and their families can get through this emotional turmoil with the help of art therapy.

Today, art therapy is used in several hospitals in the country to tend to the most seriously ill children. Here are some of the benefits of art therapy in children with chronic illness.

Expression and communication

Living in the hospital for several months, you may not expect these children to create meaningful and inspiring masterpieces. These children turn to their art materials to draw and paint a picture of how they are feeling at the moment.

Most kids find it difficult to verbalize how they feel. Because of that, they are encouraged to express their feelings through drawings, paintings, sketches and doodles.

Cope with stress and anxiety

Being diagnosed with a serious illness can be a catastrophic blow to the young patient and their family.

Art therapy functions in a very unique way for chronically ill and dying kids. It helps them cope with the mental and emotional stress that often accompanies their battle with illness. Plus, it allows them to forget about the pain, even for a while, and just relax.

Sense of control and mastery

Art therapy can be liberating to the young patient and their families as it provides them an opportunity to make a decision and create a sense of control. This is especially true since most of them feel like they have no control over the situation.

Here, they are free to choose what to draw or paint, what colors to choose and even decide whether they want to keep or throw the final product at the end of the activity.

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