Exposure to the arts and creative expression can often bring forth a transformative healing affect. Our Artist-in-Residence program (AIR) engages patients and clinical staff in creative arts activities as part of the healing process through the visual arts, creative writing, storytelling, music, creative movement, and guided imagery.
How do the arts benefit patients?
Exposure to the arts and creative expression can often bring forth a transformative healing effect. Research shows that the arts can reduce patients’ use of pain medication and length of hospital stays and improve compliance with recommended treatments–offering substantial savings in healthcare costs.
The arts benefit patients by:
- aiding in physical, mental, and emotional recovery by relieving anxiety and decreasing patients perception of pain
- serving as a therapeutic and healing tool, reducing stress and loneliness in an atmosphere where the patient often feels out of control
- helping people connect with their inner resources for healing through creative expression and giving voice to unspoken thoughts and feelings, helping patients express themselves and gain insight
How do the arts benefit caregivers and healthcare providers?
Caregivers, such as family, friends, and healthcare providers in hospitals, hospices, and other health facilities, are faced with the realities of human suffering, illness, and death on a daily basis.
The arts benefit caregivers and healthcare providers by:
- creating a common, more normative environment
- offering caregivers an opportunity for creativity and self-expression that allows them to healthfully integrate their experiences and emotions instead of carrying them home or into the workplace
- giving medical professionals new tools for improving diagnostic and communication skills and effectively conveying health and recovery information
- overcoming barriers by embracing diversity, reinforcing family members’ supportive role in the healing process, and changing the culture within the healthcare facility to one that is more supportive and humane*
*Source: The Society for the Arts in Health Care, 2009 State of the Field Report
Frequently Asked Questions
The program trains and supports local artists to guide patients, caregivers and clinicians to participate in arts-based activities that lead to stress reduction, self-awareness and self-expression. Patients and caregivers who participate often express great relief from pain and anxiety associated with their illness and are grateful for an opportunity to discover and explore what they can do.
The AIR program is offered as an optional and free service to patients and caregivers (including family members). At the Schar Cancer Institute, we operate during regularly scheduled hours, Monday through Friday, in the outpatient infusion, radiation, and waiting areas.
AIR artists are trained to motivate and guide participation in a creative experience at whatever the level of skills, interest or capability of each person. The AIR team will include visual artists, storytellers, poets and writers, musicians, and dance-movement specialists offering a range of opportunities to engage in the creative process.
The AIR team includes local (northern Virginia and Washington metro area) professional artists who have been trained and are being paid to work with patients and caregivers during their visits to the Schar Cancer Institute. The artists are not clinically trained arts therapists but receive ongoing training and supervision to work with patients affected by cancer as well as their caregivers.
Art materials and services are provided free for patients and caregivers, who are welcome to take their work home or may otherwise be encouraged to share their creativity with others in patient art exhibitions or through digital images or audio recordings.
Current AIR Program Locations:
- The Inova Schar Cancer Institute (Opening April 2019)
- Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (Wounded Warriors)