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02:00 PM

The Benefits of Art Therapy


A swipe of a paintbrush. A squeeze of a ball of clay. Simple tools are allowing cancer patients at OhioHealth to become something they might not have been before - artists. Besides being fun and relaxing, art therapy has a purpose. It allows patients to relax through creative activity and allows them to express and explore their emotions and concerns.

“Art therapy is essentially a form of counseling where you’re using the expressive arts,” says Jen McHale, MS, ATR, an art therapist at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital and the Arthur G.H. Bing, MD, Cancer Center. “Often it starts as kind of a distraction. Something to get your mind off of all your worries and things that are going on.”

A recent user of art therapy is Patti Pendleton, who is battling cell and tissue cancer and has been a patient at Riverside for three months, receiving radiation and chemotherapy.

“When you’re in the hospital for days on end, staring at the TV, it starts to get old,” says McHale.

Initially hesitant to try art therapy, Patti decided to try to beat her boredom with something new. She started by rolling clay, then moved on to painting and collage work.

“The art, it was for me an outlet that I could get away from the pain for just a little bit, and then it carries throughout the day,” says Patti. “(It allows me) to be free and feel that there is joy in the midst of the pain.”

Patti says participating in art therapy has really helped her grow while receiving treatment.

“You get to appreciate the things that you might not have thought about,” she says.

Patti's collection of art was recently displayed on the inpatient cancer wing at Riverside for other patients, staff and visitors to view. 

Click here to learn more about art therapy. 

To learn more about OhioHealth Cancer Services, click here.