By Andrew,6,at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia
By Megan,8, at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia
By Sara,6, at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia

The team studied the art's effects by studying the patient's mood, mental state, recovery time and pain perception.

According to the study, the scene of water and trees benefitted the patients more. The patients in Group 1, were less anxious within 2 days after surgery and handled pain medicine like morphine better.

The picture of the forest did not significantly improve patients outcomes because patients thought the scene was dark and crowded.

The rectilinear abstract picture fared the worst in the study. It actually made patients ill. Patients who viewed this picture were more anxious and initially took more pain drugs than the control groups.

The study explains that astract art has adverse effects on patients because it is ambiguous and left open to interpretations. This type of art is inappropriate for health care settings.

" In a stressful environment such as a hospital, ambiguity is not likely to be therapeutic."-Ulrich

When considering and choosing art for the heathcare setting, Ulrich suggests the following guidelines.

  • Art should be obviously positive

  • The images in the art should be recognizable. (Impressionistic art is acceptable if one can recognize what it is.)

  • Avoid chaotic and abstract art.

  • Nature scenes should be sunny with bright colors such as green rather than brown.

  • If people are in the scene make sure they are smiling or look positive.

    Healing and Left Brain vs. Right Brain

    Left Brain-uses logic
    facts,words, language,
    (math and science)

    Right Brain- controls imaging,
    symbols, spatial perception,
    fantasy,( philosophy & religion)

    Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D explains how the creative journaling process can help heal emotionally because it brings together writing and imaging so that your entire brain is communicating as whole.

    When a both the left and right hemispheres of the brain are communicating, both thoughts and emotions are more fully expressed and understood. Understanding and expressing yourself to the fullest of your ability can heal you because you can achieve relaxation and peace.

    We usually use only one part of our brains, the left brain, but you can learn to use both parts. You can do this by practing writing and drawing with your non-dominant hand or the hand that you usually don't use to write. The dominant hand is the one you normally use to write.

    Try this exercise from Living With Feeling: The Art of Emotional Expression by Capacchione.

  • Then with the dominant hand, write down words to express your feelings.



    Besides visual arts, landscapes and gardens can give therapeutic benefits to patients too.

    Rebecca Cotton, a British landscape architect, visited 40 Buddhist and Taoist sacred gardens to study how the gardens can be connected to the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

    She discoverd garden architecture that blended into nature and made the observer feel like they also were part of it. The garden became a place of rest and haven.

    In these gardens, she discovered statues that served as symbols of hope. Consequently, she concluded that hospitals, which are places of sickness and death, need gardens designed with symbols of hope, care and joy.


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