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

Shamballa Bracelets

We were treated to a really fun workshop last week by the mom of one of our patients, who also happens to be a very talented jewelry maker!  While caring for her son as he undergoes treatment she became interested in making shamballa bracelets. In addition to making her own jewelry, she enjoys teaching others how to make jewelry and offered to teach our staff how to make these beautiful bracelets. 

Shamballa bracelets are made using various kinds of beads that are tied with hemp cord using special knots originating from macramé. The knotting looks complex, but with a little practice the technique is easy to get the hang of. The bracelets we made in the staff workshop turned out great!

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The bracelet’s name, Shamballa, has its origins in Tibetan Buddhism.  “Shamballa” is believed to be a mythical kingdom filled with peace, tranquility and happiness. Similarly, creating these bracelets can be very meditative and peaceful. The repetitive pattern of knotting makes the creation process very calming.

Interestingly, some people make these bracelets with specific gems and stones that are believed to have healing properties or represent an inner personal strength.  Creating a visual reminder of inner strengths or imparting special powers on the bracelet can be particularly helpful to an individual and the family members of someone going through a difficult experience, like cancer treatment.  

As a staff, we are going to be wearing our Shamballa bracelets in support of this patient and his family as they continue on the path towards healing.