Art and music therapy has made its way from alternative therapy into some mainstream medical centers and hospitals.
Are oil paints and musical instruments medical devices? In the strictest sense of the word, they’re obviously not.
However, it’s equally obvious that the arts have a potent therapeutic effect on our systems.
Increasingly, they’re being seen not just as a way to enrich our lives, but also to improve our health.
Some medical practitioners even see the arts as a therapy in themselves which can be as effective as medication in some cases. If you need proof of this shift in attitudes among the medical community, consider this – nearly 50% of US health care institutions have some sort of arts programs.
The effects of music, painting and other art forms go beyond giving patients a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of empowerment.
Creative pursuits can also have a tangible physical effect, reducing symptoms like high blood pressure and heart rate, for example, even as they provide patients with a means of expressing themselves at a stressful time in their lives.
There have been many studies into the positive effects of the arts and the results show that practicing an art form can help to relieve pain in some patients.
Music is especially helpful for some conditions – people with dementia who play music have experienced an improvement in memory.
Additionally, there may be benefits for the health care system as well. Some early studies suggest that patients who take part in arts programs are more compliant with medication and other treatment routines and have a noticeably lower rate of readmission.
It’s also proven to be beneficial for health care workers; nurses have reported experiencing lower stress when their patients participate in hospital and clinic arts programs.
There are many hospitals which fully recognize the therapeutic potential of art. Some, such as the Cleveland Clinic, to the point that the hospital is also something of a gallery. The Cleveland Clinic houses several thousand pieces of art across its 27 locations, and tours of the artwork are available to patients, as are music and art therapy programs.
Health and creativity are more closely linked than many people recognize, and this is starting to change for the better as we recognize that the humanities and the sciences shouldn’t be considered two entirely separate worlds.
Hospitals Should Be places of Healing - mind, body and spirit - aiming to calm and perhaps even inspire.
When we’re calm and mentally engaged through art or music, then stress, anxiety and pain start to melt away and the human body’s incredible capacity of healing itself can start to work.
As an integral part of the human experience, art deserves a role in the healing process.
Most of us, hopefully, have at least once experienced the feeling that creating a physical, hands on piece of work can help us to feel better.
Engaging with art or music by experiencing it for ourselves can make us feel calm, relaxed and in some cases, even heal us.
It’s time that the medical profession embraced the arts as a therapeutic modality.
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