Watch Out for the T-Rex!!!

Today one of our young patients came in with a friend and the two of them spent the morning using the relaxation mats in our clinic to build an elaborate house complete with passageways, doors and a roof. For the patient, having his own space in the house that had a roof over it was particularly important. When the roof was on his house he didn’t want anyone to be able to see him. His mom and I worked to fulfill his need only to find moments later a “strong wind” had come through and knocked the house down! The strong wind quickly developed into a T-Rex that was determined to destroy everything in its path. The two kids giggled and jumped up and down in delight as they tumbled over the large mats. Once the T-Rex was gone we worked to rebuild the house until… (you guessed it!) another T-Rex came along to knock the whole thing down again!

IMG_8098

The theme of creation and destruction is one that we sometimes see with kids. As adults, we usually view creation as a linear process- we come up with an idea, work to create it and hope that in the process and after it is completed that it doesn’t fall apart. For some kids however, the creation process can be less linear and more circular with equal joy and importance on the creation as well as the destruction of the artwork. At times destroying something can be far more therapeutic than making it!

In this patient’s case, the creation of a place where he could hide and not be seen by anyone made him feel safe and protected, while the later destruction of the house allowed him to feel more in control and powerful. The process seemed to validate both of these feelings and help relieve his anxiety about the medical care he received today.

Art from Art Therapists

At the American Art Therapy Association Conference last week in Seattle, I bought $5 worth of raffle tickets to benefit  the Multicultural Committee’s Scholarship Fund. Much to my surprise, at the end of the closing reception they drew the tickets and called out my name! Here is a picture of the banner, hanging in the art area at the clinic at Lombardi.

American Art Therapy Association Multicultural Commitee Art Banner

American Art Therapy Association Multicultural Commitee Art Banner

 

Art Therapy in The Washington Post!

One of the things that we try to do regularly at our clinic at Georgetown Hospital is provide a creative outlet for our medical and psychosocial team.  In an article published today in the Health & Science section of The Washington Post our clinical nurse manager, Jan Powers, gave a wonderful description of why making art can be so helpful during difficult times.  In this particular workshop we invited staff to get together to make art using clay.

“There was a lot of pounding and kneading, and while we made our pots or whatever, people started to talk. When your hands are occupied and you’re not in the spotlight, it’s easier to say things like ‘I feel really bad’ or ‘This child touched my heart and I’m grieving.’ It gives staff a chance to create out of something that is hurtful and painful.”

This is a great example of how the creative process and art therapists can play a very important role in supporting the other members of the clinical team.

IMG_8068

 To read the entire Washington Post article about how hospitals are using the creative arts to combat compassion fatigue follow the link:     

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/with-nurses-at-risk-of-compassion-fatigue-hospitals-try-to-ease-their-stress/2013/06/07/b92b9e86-97e3-11e2-97cd-3d8c1afe4f0f_story.html

With a little help from your Peeps!

We didn’t win the Washington Post Magazine’s Peeps contest, but the Kids’ Post Pullout in the March 31 Sunday Style Section is about kids entering the Peeps Contest. They included a great picture  and a caption about our entry, along with some other awesome  kids’ Peeps creations.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/kidspost/peeps-dioramas-created-by-kids/2013/03/27/7f10f8b8-955e-11e2-b6f0-a5150a247b6a_gallery.html#photo=15

Thanks, Washington Post!

Our Peeps Contest Entry

Our Peeps Contest Entry

Spring Snowflakes!

Seeing snow on top of the daffodils is really confusing! In celebration of the surprising weather, we made Spring Snowflakes at the clinic today.

Snow!

Snow!

Spring Snowflakes 1

What you need

Those round paper coffee filters are great for this project. You will need coffee filters, water-based (non-permanent) markers, a brush and some water, and scissors.

 First, draw a beautiful spring scene on your coffee filter—those daffodils that were so sunny and yellow yesterday, a rainbow, a rose, or just a colorful design.

  • Then dip a paintbrush in just plain water and drip or paint the water on your drawing
  • Watch the colors run together and blend—making your drawing into a soft-edged, melty design
  • Spread your snowflakes out to dry
  • When dry, fold them in half, then in half again, and half again and cut little notches and designs along the folded edges.
  • When you open them up, you will have colorful concentric snowflake designs. Remember, no two snowflakes are alike, so it doesn’t really matter how you cut them.

 

Spring Snowflakes 4

Making it snow!

Spring Snowflakes 6

It’s snowing inside!

 We were so excited about our snowflakes that we made an indoor snowstorm! Have fun!!

Happily Hungry on the Today Show!

The Today show aired a wonderful story on Danielle Navidi’s cookbook for kids with cancer, Happily Hungry! It came out of her experience as the mom of a pediatric cancer patient at Lombardi. Check out this great story!

http://www.today.com/id/51082455/site/todayshow/ns/today-good_news/t/mom-teaches-parents-how-cook-kids-cancer/

Art Therapy on the BBC!

We were delighted to be part of a story by the BBC about the field of art therapy. The story tries to get at how and why art therapy works. It features interviews with art therapists Donna Betts and Heidi Bardot, as well as students from GWU’s Art Therapy program and some great footage of our own Kate Martin working with some of our wonderful kids.

Here’s the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21579762

 BBC News Magazine
IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Click here to find out more!

The Power of Art: Can creativity cure the sick?

 25 February 2013 Last updated at 21:03 ET
Can unleashing inner creativity heal the sick?

Nine-year-old leukaemia patient Ryan is in no doubt. “It makes you feel like you can do anything really,” he says of the art therapy classes he enjoys, thanks to a US charity.

The American military has also long embraced art therapy, using it as a core treatment to help veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Now top brass are leading research to find out why this kind of treatment works.

As Jane O’Brien reports in the second part of our Power of Art series, mounting clinical evidence of art’s medical benefits could bring new and exciting ways to harness its power.

The Art of War

Going through a long term medical treatment can at times feel like a battle. Not only the disease itself, but also the ups and downs of treatment, the medicines, and the blood draws, can feel like an assault to the person going through treatment. For children this can be difficult to process, but art can allow them to make sense of this experience. For some patients, the medical experience finds its way into play and artwork in the form of battles, swords and protective armor.

Recently, a patient created a submarine equipped with toothpick guns and protective force fields made from pipe cleaners and paper clips. Another patient made a protective shield using mosaic tiles and foam core. Both works of art express the patient’s need for protection, feelings of vulnerability and the experience of medical treatment as a battle.

                                       

The Art Space

The art space is a really important part of the experience of the families and patients who come to our clinic. The space helps to transport the patient from the sterile environment of the hospital into an artist’s studio; the art table providing respite from the examination table. No medical procedures are allowed in the art space!

It is also a place where patients can display their artwork- placing their own mark on the landscape of the hospital they spend so much time in. For our kids, the presence and consistency of this space, filled with paintings and pottery, can also be very comforting.  For our parents, coloring with crayons or the smell of Play-doh can bring back happy childhood memories. This space is a kind of sanctuary that makes the medical work the kids and their families do manageable and enjoyable.

One patient invented an orange “monster” called “Bob,” whose portrait hangs proudly on the art closet door. Many kids see him and create their own versions of Bob—indirectly exchanging ideas with patients they may not even know.

We discovered just how keenly aware our patients are of the art space when one of our clay pieces, a tiny green and red dragon, was taken home after living on our shelf for the past year. In the days following the dragon’s departure kids would walk into the art area, look around at the many little objects and paintings and ask alarmed, “Where is the dragon?”  Apparently, he had become the unspoken mascot of our art space! As the days passed more kids continued to ask us where the dragon was and we soon realized that we needed to create a replacement. Here she is guarding the artwork…

Sock Monkeys Part Two

Here is the update on Operation Sock Monkey at Lombardi. So far we have two complete monkeys and one in progress. We are starting to get a lot of interest in the project,  so I am going to pick up some more colorful socks so the groove can continue. We have until December 10 to send them in. Bet you can’t look at the photos without smiling!