Beading!

Of the many art materials available to our patients, beads are one of our most popular. Often a patient or parent will come in wanting something to help pass the time or to make a gift for a loved one.   Usually, once one person starts beading other patients and parents start to jump in and we often end up with an impromptu beading party!

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Creating bracelets for friends

There are so many reasons why people are drawn to this kind of project, but one of the reasons that we encourage it in art therapy is that beading provides patients, siblings and parents a way to connect with each other. It can open the door for them to laugh together, support one another and share their experiences. For some the thrill of searching for just the right bead or helping someone else find it is rewarding and a helpful way to pass the time at the clinic. Others enjoy the ability to create something beautiful for oneself and loved ones.

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For other patients beading can provide a means of reflection and sharing information. One patient, when he first starting coming for treatment at our clinic, created a bracelet made up of beads he selected to represent each year of his life. Some beads represented significant experiences and other beads represented things he likes. The creation of the bracelet gave this patient the opportunity to introduce himself to the art therapists and share the parts of his life that he wanted us to know about.

Bravery

Many of the kids and their families that come to our clinic are very brave. You have to be to undergo treatment or watch someone you love undergo it. Many of our kids pride themselves for having courage in the face of needles and procedures. “You were really brave” can be the biggest compliment for a child after a scary procedure is finished.  

Acknowledging the bravery of a child also acknowledges that what they just did was scary and they had good reason to feel scared.  At times, it is tempting to downplay scary things to make kids feel less anxious.  However, acknowledging the child’s feelings allows for the child to be heard and find the courage needed to get through it.

Bravery also has many faces in our clinic- maybe it involves squeezing a stuffed animal, yelling, or distracting oneself with pictures of favorite things.  Sometimes it involves imagining a pleasant place.

Watercolor of a relaxing place

Watercolor of a relaxing place

Often, at the art therapy table, before a procedure a child will talk about the procedure, express fears, make art about something he or she likes or express some of the inner turmoil with splatters of paint across a canvas. As art therapists we facilitate this range of expressions- acknowledging worries, creating an art space to contain anxiety, helping to create a comforting place using art materials. All of these things help kids develop coping skills to help them through treatment as well as life’s future challenges.