Art Therapy

Art Therapy

Young child sitting up in their hospital bed speaking with a medical provider, colored crayon hanging off an IV pole.

Art therapy is relevant for people of all artistic abilities and confidence. It focuses on the art-making process to achieve desired outcomes.

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What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is an evidenced-based practice that supports the emotional, physical, social and spiritual well-being of patients of all ages through the therapeutic use of art-making within a professional relationship. Art therapists are masters-level clinicians trained in both art and therapy. They carefully select and offer art materials that are aligned to the patient’s needs. Patients do not need to have any previous artistic experience to benefit from art therapy. Reflection on the art materials and creative processes allows individuals to gain insight to themselves, others and their experiences.

Art therapy also provides patients with opportunities for creative self-expression and relaxation to support them in coping with symptoms, pain and the stress associated with a medical diagnosis. Through the work created in art therapy sessions, patients receive a visual and personalized history of their journey and growth through illness or hospitalizations.

Our art therapist offers a wide range of materials and processes to address the patient’s identified needs and goals. Materials and processes include:

  • Markers, crayons and colored pencils
  • Paints
  • Clays
  • Fibers
  • Masks
  • Containment boxes
  • Bookmaking
  • Collages

Our art therapist collaborates with the medical team to support patients’ entire well-being during their hospital stay, including but not limited to:

  • Opportunities for emotional self-expression
  • Hope and positivity for the future
  • Meaning from experiences
  • A sense of control through normalizing activities to help them adjust to hospitalization and/or illness
  • Relaxation and reduction of anxiety
  • Pain management
  • Support for families and legacy work at patients’ end of life

Art is deeply rooted in all traditions across faiths and cultures and often brings forth healing and comfort. Our art therapist strives to provide patients and families with opportunities to stay connected to their traditions throughout their journey to health and wellness.

Individual art therapy sessions are currently provided on a referral basis throughout Penn State Children’s Hospital and admitted patients of Penn State Cancer Institute. If you or your loved one would like to participate, please speak to your care team.

Make a Donation

To make a donation to the Art Therapy Fund, contact Penn State Office of University Development at 717-531-6118 or donate online.

Contact Us

If you have questions about the Art Therapy Program, contact Alexis Lombardo at alombardo@pennstatehealth.psu.edu.