Defining the goals…

OK. So, after I began to think out-loud in response to a comment on a previous post, where @Celestiteblue did point out a need for a clearer picture, so to speak, of what exactly Sketch4Health is about, I have decided to pose 1 question per blog post.

So each post will have one and only one question. I will put my thoughts out there, but I am hoping for some serious brainstorming too!

The Question of the Day: Who is the “target audience?” (i.e. who should receive help accessing a convenient creative outlet first)

Initially I was thinking primarily in-patients and those needing daily hospital treatments for any chronic/severe health conditions. It did occur to me, however, that many hospitals already have some sort of art-therapy like resources available, especially in psychiatric wings and in large teaching hospitals. This is NOT to say that in-patients should be ignored, but I think many people with chronic health problems may be flying under the radar simply because they are doing a bit better.

This leads me to a tentative initial scope of recipients: hospital patients with limited to no access to artistic outlets, community healthcare centers that see a large number of low-income patients and/or medicaid patients, and residents of LTC facilities (Long Term Care facilities) that do not already incorporate art-therapy (or something similar) into a holistic treatment plan.

Once we can define a starting “target group,” we can begin to look at what steps need to be taken in order to actually reach patients/residents and what type of fundraising (not necessarily just monetary donations) is needed/how much…

Ok. YOUR turn! Hopefully one step closer to my goal of being able to define the mission of Sketch 4 Health in one sentence. 

More Research! So many studies…

OK. I think I’m in neck deep with medical based studies investigating the efficacy of art therapy.

If you just want a list of TONS of examples (from ADD to grief to traumatic brain injuries)- here is a good PDF list from the American Art Therapy Association. For each study listed there is a section summarizing findings, and additional information on the validity of the study (and the limitations of that study, in some cases). Basically: an overwhelming amount of support for the role art therapy can have in health care.

One thought before I move on and forget it: I found one study particularly interesting in its investigation into the methods used. (#14, summary on page 34). The study is limited, and focuses on young sexual abuse victims specifically and does not address the healthcare community in a greater sense, but the findings could be potentially useful in how the sketchbooks/kits are put together.

“It was found that children produced more formed expressions and creative/design elements and less chaotic discharge and stereotypic art through the art project that involved few instructions and few materials… versus involved, ‘multiple instructions and materials'”

This is something I hadn’t thought about from the standpoint of providing a creative outlet. I assumed that the main need for access to art supplies was driven partly by lack of money and partly by lack of artistic exposure. Basically, according to this preliminary study, less is more. I had originally planned only to provide basic materials anyway- as organizing instruction on such a wide scale is probably much too much of a task for me- but did not realize that this could actually be more beneficial to the receivers. A less structured environment has always helped foster my creativity, and the less instruction I received, the more creative I was (and almost had to be). It does make sense that minimal to no instruction would leave the possibilities as endless as the creator’s imagination.

Then too is the inevitable discussion of costs and donations. Though not necessarily monetary donations, at some point some sort of drawing/writing supplies will be needed to go along with the sketchbooks themselves. This begs the following inevitable questions of “How much can be given?” and “How much is needed?

According to this study, perhaps only the basics. A pencil, a pen, and something with some color (pencils, crayons, or markers). In terms of what you need to express emotions, a writing utensil and access to colors (emotions and colors are strongly tied- just ask anyone who designs ads…) are really all you need. Whether the person receiving the supplies writes, draws, sketches, scribbles, whether what they create is deep and meaningful or simply an exploration of aesthetics, whether the end product is useful or useless- it doesn’t matter. Each person will need something different from their sketchbook.  Just as no two illnesses are identical, and no two sets of treatments are prescribed in the same manner, no two people will use a sketchbook in the same way.

So here’s my question for you- the part where the reader has the chance to help ME out a little ;-D

What would YOU do with a sketchbook, a pencil, a pen, and some crayons? How would you fill the book? 

(In case you haven’t caught the hint yet- I am asking for some comments!!!! THIS IS NOT A RHETORICAL QUESTION PEOPLE!)

Supporting Research?

It has come to my attention that, though I have an intuitive sense of the importance of art in the healing process, maybe some more solid research would flesh out my ideas a bit.

So here’s my findings from today (I will keep posting as often as I find good sources and I have the time)

(Click on the title to see the original source)

From: The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature

-“Engagement with creative activities has the potential to contribute toward reducing stress and depression and can serve as a vehicle for alleviating the burden of chronic disease.”

This comes from a brief paragraph that points out that two of the leading chronic conditions in the US, heart disease and diabetes, are associated with “psychosocial stress.” This is kind of key- I think that many of us, myself included, tend to think only of the direct psychological benefits of creativity, not of the indirect physical benefits that are probably greater than we have yet discovered. A person with diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), but not with any obvious psychological disorders, would still benefit greatly from a reduction in stress. I began thinking about the demographic of people for Sketch4Health in a more limited sense- those with conditions that created great stress, rather than those with conditions worsened or partially caused by stress.

I will be honest: this article examines a few different types of arts used for theraputic purposes, but I mainly focused on the “Visual Arts” section- since that is what I am trying to help with.

“Art helps people express experiences that
are too difficult to put into words, such as
a diagnosis of cancer”

Under the visual arts heading is a chart summarizing the findings of several studies on the effects of creating art. ALL of the studies found positive results. Benefits included distraction, increased positive emotions and reduced depression, and increased focus on self-worth and social identity.

Also:

If you haven’t already, check out the video I came across the other day, it is very inspiring! Comment below!!! And follow the board on Pinterest if you want to help gather visual ideas!

About Art Therapy

Please watch the video if you have the time. My favorite quote: “make a scream… Nobody knows what a scream looks like…”

You can’t express everything to a doctor, at least not right away. It talks about the science behind art as therapy a bit, too, if that helps you get the picture of what I am getting at.

“getting something in you out”