Spread the Love!

 

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This past week the kids were busy making colorful Valentine’s for family members, classmates and their favorite nurses and doctors. They even shared a little love with the  Tracy’s Kids art therapists!

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We were the lucky recipients of a box of chocolates decorated by the siblings of one of our patients!

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Patients and their families used collage materials to create beautiful Valentine’s for their loved ones

Valentine cards made by the Georgetown students for out patients

Valentine cards made by the Georgetown students for out patients

The Georgetown Hematology/Oncology staff  created a Valentine garland with “get- well- soon” notes to one of our patients who had to spend Valentine’s weekend in the hospital.

Garland of Valentines

Garland of Valentines

 

Time For a Check Up!

Play therapy and art therapy often go hand-in-hand, especially at our clinic.  Many of our younger patients will engage in an art making process that turns into a puppet show and then a song or a dance. Often the play that our patients engage in reflects their experiences in the clinic.  Medical play kits allow patients to become doctors, surgeons and nurses performing everything from check- ups to shots on dolls, siblings, parents and staff.

Medical play also allows patients to be in control of something that is potentially scary. Reenacting a scary shot or procedure can help a child feel more in control of their own medical care.

Recently one of our clinic dads got a check up from two of our youngest doctors. They were very thorough in the exam- blood pressure and temperature were repeatedly checked!

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medical play2

 

Pinch Pots

On Tuesday we led a lunchtime “art-break” for the inpatient hospital nurses and support staff. Over the lunch hour, about 16 staff members joined for a few minutes at a time to create a clay pot and enjoy a few minutes of quiet and creativity amidst their busy workdays. These highly skilled medical professionals loved the process of creating  simple containers with their hands.

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Sponsored by Tracy’s Kids and the GUH Department of Pastoral Care, the workshop included pizza for lunch as well. The pots will be used at the upcoming Pediatric Interfaith Memorial Service to be held November 10 at Georgetown to honor the children who have died in our care. Each family in attendance will receive a pinch pot to take home, crafted by a staff member who cared for their child, filled with a paperwhite flower bulb ready to bloom near the holidays.

Archaeologists believe that the pinch pot was the first type of container people ever made of clay. There are centuries’-old traditions of pinch pots in Native American and Japanese culture, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. We love teaching this age-old technique and creating a little space for busy medical professionals to rest,  recharge their batteries, and create a little gift for very dear families.

Chocolate Party!

Last week we had a chocolate party sponsored by the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation! An expert chocolatier volunteered her time to come in and help the kids make tasty creations in milk and dark chocolate. The kids spooned dollops of melted chocolate onto trays and used almond slivers, candy corns, peanuts and cherries to create little faces.

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Some kids ended up covering their own faces in chocolate…

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It was an awesome day and everyone had a great time!

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The Mosaic is Complete!

The mosaic that the kids have busily been working on these last couple weeks is now complete! It looks great and we are lucky enough to have it on display in our clinic during the month of August. Check it out!

The completed mural!

The completed mosaic!

Rainbow

Rainbow

Ladybug fairy

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Leprechaun, pot of gold and eagle

Flowers and artist

Flowers and artist

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Thanks you for all your hard work!

Summer Mosaic Project

As part of a summer project, two local high school students have been working hard with our kids over the last few weeks on a mosaic project. The finished work will be displayed (location to be announced) with the goal of educating the public about the benefits of art therapy. Both kids and parents have helped out this week, arranging hundreds of little glass tiles to create this beautiful piece of art. Kids were also invited to use clay to make their own mosaic tiles featuring whatever they wanted to include in the landscape. Their creations include flowers, leaping dolphins, a black widow spider, a leprechaun–and a “flying potato” (contributed by a very creative two year old!).

Here are some pictures of the work in progress: 

Our project leaders, Mave and Rachel

Our project leaders, Maeve and Rachel

Coming up with the idea

The landscape

The landscape

Drawing ideas

Clay objects created by the kids

Close up of clay creations

Close up of clay creations

Laying out the mosiac tiles

Laying out the mosaic tiles

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!

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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 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.

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 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

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.

Making Art Together

Sometimes parents and their children share some very special moments doing art together. As an art therapist, it is a wonderful treat to get to witness a child and parent play with art materials and create something beautiful.

On this occasion, a mother and her young daughter take turns drawing colors and shapes- engaging in a fun, “visual conversation” on the paper.

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