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Group hopes to expand opportunities for art therapies

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Posted at 10:41 AM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 13:41:15-05

Studies have shown that playing music, singing, dancing and drawing can have several health benefits. Now, one group of researchers is taking studies a step further to see how specific art therapies could help treat cognitive conditions.

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has teamed up with the Aspen Institute to create the NeuroArts Blueprint.

"Having a road map for creating a new field is something that is really not novel, right? Bioethics did it, climate change has done it, women's health has done it," said Susan Magsamen, the executive director of the International Arts + Mind Lab at Johns Hopkins. "So, the NeuroArts Blueprint is a global initiative to bring the healing power of the arts into the mainstream of medicine and public health."

Work on the project has been underway since 2019, and the project's co-director expects it to continue for many more years.

The group currently focuses on advancing practice, building policy, funding and communications.

Researchers are testing memory improvement for patients with Alzheimer's and testing anxiety and stress reduction for people with PTSD and depression. They're even testing how the look of a hospital room or classroom can impact how people heal and learn.

Since researchers are scientifically testing their hypotheses, it opens the door for arts therapies to be covered by insurance.

Researchers say art therapies can be especially helpful because they come in many accessible forms.

"Like right now, you and I could start to sing, and right now we can start to hum, or we could dance, or we could doodle, and I can't think of any other intervention that has that kind of triad of success," Magsamen said.

Magsamen says other outlets for the arts are also in the works, like an app that could be accessed at pharmacies.

The team is still working on ways for the public to get involved, Magsamen says people can learn about the benefits of arts therapies at their website.