Updated: May 15, 2019
Art has the capacity to heal and to calm. Did you ever notice that doctor’s offices, hospital waiting rooms, and various medical facilities always have art in their waiting rooms and the exam rooms? This is because studies have shown that art helps sooth us. Though science and art are very different fields they are beginning to cross over, at least in the health care industry.
It was announced last month that in Canada doctors would be able to prescribe visits to museums for their patients for a variety of conditions, both physical and mental. Doctors have recognized that sometimes alternative methods can work in the promotion of physical and mental well-being. 100 doctors have signed up for the pilot program that is working in conjunction with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA). This program will see the doctors prescribe up to 50 visits to the MMFA. The prescription guarantees free entry to the museum for 2 adults and 2 minors. The benefits of museum visits are equivalent to that of physical activity since both produce feel good hormones. You can read more about the program here: http://artdaily.com/news/108665/Canadian-doctors-to-start-prescribing-museum-visits#.W9nOB5NKiM9.
Feel good hormones are also a benefit of art therapy. A Hong Kong-based art psychotherapist Joshua K.M. Nan, who is also a ceramicist, realized how little research there was into using clay in art therapy. He did a study which showed that patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) responded better to Clay Art Therapy (CAT) than traditional art therapy. Using clay helped patients connect more with their feelings and allowed them to creatively express them, although traditional art therapy does the same thing, clay seemed to be the medium that really allowed people the ability to convey their emotions. Working with clay allowed the participants to communicate their negative emotions and begin to feel more positive ones. You can read the full article here: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-creating-ceramics-help-combat-depression.
The point is that whether you are appreciating or making art, it is beneficial to your physical and mental health. Art stirs our emotions whether we are arm deep in clay or sitting quietly in front of a photograph, sculpture, or painting. Art is something we need in our lives; it makes us feel good and stimulates positive feelings that elevate us and the people around us. The study of art’s healing properties is relatively new, I for one am excited about what other benefits science will discover about how art helps to heal us.