Posted by Megan Andriano
By engaging the creative process of art-making, patients of all ages can enhance their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Self-expression through art can help resolve conflicts and problems, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness and achieve insight. For hospice patients, art therapy can aid symptom management, provide a way to communicate about their illness and facilitate exploration of spiritual concerns. No artistic skills are needed to benefit from art therapy.
An older adult woman was referred to me for art therapy sessions to help elevate her mood. She was mourning the loss of her physical abilities after a stroke. Her life prior to her stroke included teaching Latin and always having her hands busy with knitting needles.
She lived in a nursing home when I met her. With her permission, I brought in knitting needles and the yarn color of her choice ― green, which she stated was “the color of life.” The ball of yarn sat in her lap as I knitted next to her and she stated, “my fingers are dancing” with a smile as she watched me.
We talked about her memories as I knit a pillow cover for her. Then I began writing down her memories on pieces of fabric and attaching them to the pillow.
It became a ritual to start each session with reading the memories, and she would always have more to add during our times together. Her affect brightened and her mood improved as she listened and shared her stories that were being memorialized through art making.