Creative Arts Therapy for the Terminally Ill and Bereaved

According to The American Art Therapy Association, "Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages.Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art" (2012). Throughout history, the arts have been used as a form of self expression.Different forms of the arts have been used to bring people together in celebration on important occasions.Dying is an important time of transition for every human being and the arts have been used to ease the pain of loss and to help the dying make peace with their impending death (The Continuum Center for Health & Healing, 2011).Johnson (1987) noted that "art originally developed as a means of expression of and relief from traumatic experiences. Art, song, drama and dance in primitive times were motivated by a need for catharsis and gaining control over threats to the community”.
Art therapy is a broad spectrum that provides a myriad of choices for the dying and the bereaved.The client is encouraged to explore his or her feelings through activities like drawing, music, guided visualization, painting, making of crafts and journal writing.For the dying, a feeling of detachment can set in when one is facing end of life issues.Red Deer Hospice posits that "music therapy helps promote a patient’s physical, mental, and spiritual well being.Music therapy is especially useful at the end of life when communications often break down and a sense of isolation sets in.Gentle environmental sounds like ocean waves, wind, rain, birds, and music from harps, flutes, or stringed instruments may provide a sense of peace; (2012).

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