Art therapy is the use of creative activities such as drawing, painting, or other forms of art, to help manage physical and emotional issues. Used as a complement to traditional medicine and therapy, many experts believe art therapy can help people express, and thereby better manage, pain and feelings that have arisen as a result of a variety of issues, including cancers such as mesothelioma. Areas in which art therapy has been implemented include: emotionally impaired children and teenagers, those suffering from diseases, people dealing with addiction, victims of sexual abuse, and those who have dealt with the loss of loved ones. It can also be used as a diagnostic tool in children, who are sometimes more likely to express complex feelings in artistic form than in words.
Forms of Art Therapy
Art therapy can take many forms, from individual sessions to group therapy. Patients may be asked to create art about a specific situation, which are then coupled with discussion sessions. Patients may also may be asked to comment on a piece of art made by someone else in order to help them process internal emotion. Art therapy is offered in many hospitals and medical centers, but also in places like schools, prisons, nursing homes, and hospice care centers. This form of therapy has been evolving for more than 100 years. It was first used in the late 1800s, further developing to varying degrees over the decades until a national organization was formed on the topic in 1969. The American Art Therapy Association now has more than 4,500 members, and creates standards and accreditations for practitioners of art therapy.
Mesothelioma and Art Therapy
Art Therapy has been studied extensively through case studies to gauge its effectiveness in different situations. Although it has not been scientifically tested as a cancer treatment, case studies have shown positive impact in situations such as burn recovery, speech therapy, emotional distress, pain management, and other scenarios. Under the care of a professional, patients diagnosed with mesothelioma and other cancers, might benefit by engaging in art therapy in accordance with other treatments.