How Art Therapy Can Help Mesothelioma Patients
Mental and physical health are deeply linked. When patients find comfort in these types of therapies, their mental and physical health can improve. When patients are in an elevated mental state, their body isn’t under as much stress. Studies show correlations between a healthy mental state and an improved mesothelioma prognosis. Happy patients may also survive longer than those who are in emotional crisis. Art therapy scientists say this happens because it can alter brain waves. Moreover, the brain’s hormones and neurotransmitters may also respond to similar treatments. Some patients have demonstrated an improvement in understanding or tolerance of pain, but not all mesothelioma patients respond the same.
Firstly, when psychologists guide mesothelioma or other ill patients through creating a unique piece of art, the patient has a chance to take their mind off of everything else happening around them. Not only that, but they also get to try a new (potential) hobby or pick up something they miss. Some involved patients notice they’re more inclined to let go of internal constraints, look inward, face conflicts, fears, or unresolved emotions. Patients also discover coping techniques and overall improved function when investing in art therapy, especially when sessions are guided by the right person. When music and art therapy are used together, some patients feel even more inspired.
How It Heals
A relatively emerging treatment, mesothelioma patients have noticed improvements in their mental health. Unlike other, more invasive treatments, this one excels at keeping things light and gently welcomes all skill levels. People who learn to accept there is no “wrong” or “bad” art, can also sometimes learn to let go of things they can’t control. In the past, art therapy encouraged unique forms of communication, self-expression, and social interactions. Some patients even reported a boost in confidence and overall outlook.
Depression, anger, hopelessness, are all side-effects of an unhealthy mental state. Mesothelioma or other patients with a debilitating illness often experience these types of emotions.
Mesothelioma symptoms, complications, and side effects art therapy can help relieve are:
- Anxiety, stress, depression
- Anger, aggression
- Compassion fatigue (caregivers, hospice, nurses)
- Family or relationship strain
Family members, caregivers, home nurses, and others may also participate in art-based treatments. A mesothelioma diagnosis is difficult for everyone involved. This activity is also helpful when family members or friends try it together.
Types of Art Therapy
This treatment is always evolving and comes in all shapes. Anything that brings out someone’s artistic expression could be considered a form of art therapy. Types of art therapy can be:
- Arranged delicacies
- Carpentered carvings
- Doodled shapes
- Drawn designs
- Molded clay
- Painted strokes
- Picture collages
- Sewn clothes
- Scribbled lines
- Written word
There is no strict process for this type of holistic therapy. Whatever resonates best with the patient will be the most successful. The most important thing to remember is to try and keep an open mind.
Different Complementary Treatments for Mesothelioma
Other complementary treatments mesothelioma patients can consider are:
- Assisted Animal therapy
- Herbal supplements
- Medical Marijuana (with doctor prescription)
- Meditation and yoga
- Physical therapy
Complementary treatments never replace primary mesothelioma therapies or medications. It’s only supposed to be used as a form of palliative care, or additional therapy that can’t cure or stop tumors from growing but is only meant to help relieve symptoms.
How to Sign Up for Art Therapy
An art therapist is a medical professional that holds a master’s degree or higher in art therapy or a related field. They’re professionals that work in hospitals, clinics, schools, or other educational institutions. Just because the treatment changes and adapts, doesn’t mean the quality of the therapist should. Not just anyone can run an art therapy session, some people with no accreditation may try to persuade patients to take their self-made classes, but this isn’t recommended. Reach out to your physician or oncologist. They can provide trusted art therapy recommendations and resources in your area.