The Wall Street Journal ran a piece recently (In Search of Science Behind the Healing Powers of Art by Ron Winslow, June 30, 2009, D3) on an organization that is studying the healing effects of artistic endeavors. Brookline, Massachussett’s Foundation for Arts & Healing is aided by a group of researchers, artists, and health-care professionals to study arts effects to “soothe, transform and inspire . . . and perhaps treat heart disease.” The article cites the case of a young heart-transplant patient, Julia Strecher, then aged 9, who suffered nightmares after suffering cardiac arrest and necessitating a second transplant. She found that after writing about her experiences she was able to quell the fear that plagued her nightly.
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that my own personal work is a form of art therapy, to navigate the ironies I observed in the world from a young age, to honor the people and ideas that sustained me intellectually and spiritually, to mediate things I have a hard time processing. To be able to have others acknowledge and appreciate this avocation is a dream, to be able to in part support oneself from it is a gift.
The Foundation for Arts & Healing is seeking quantitative evidence of the efficacy of arts for healing in order to garner more support from the business community. I hope the pharmaceutical companies and the like get behind this important component to healing, despite the fact, as the Foundation’s founder, Dr. Jeremy Nobel says, “Many of the things we are talking about are free or almost free.” And it goes without saying that this is the beauty of arts education, that with limited resources one can facilitate communication, creativity, and healing – building skills that will sustain us as individuals and a community.
If any of you Boston area creatives are looking for a volunteer gig, this might be a great organization to check out.