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Sharp Health News

Music to soothe body and soul

Nov. 10, 2015

Healing happens for a variety of reasons. Oftentimes, excellent health care leads to patient wellness. Some people believe in the power of prayer, while others credit the support of family and friends.

Likely, a combination of factors contributes to the improvement of an illness or injury. In that spirit, Sharp HealthCare includes arts among its many ways of enhancing the healing process. The Arts for Healing program at Sharp uses the power of art, both at the bedside and in small groups.

Unique to San Diego, Arts for Healing is the only program in an adult hospital that brings art and music to the patient's bedside, at no cost to them. Trained volunteers work alongside licensed art and music therapists to comfort patients and foster recovery. The program helps to minimize stress and elevate spirits.

"Arts for Healing allows us to help spiritually raise the focus of patients, get them in a positive state of mind and touch them in some way that inspires them to get better," says Dr. Kenneth J. Roth, an internal medicine physician with Sharp Community Medical Group. "Reduced stress and anxiety are certainly better for healing."

Take one song and call me in the morning

Free for patients, Arts for Healing is entirely funded by generous board members, grateful patients, corporations, foundations and staff. Under the leadership of a Sharp HealthCare Spiritual Care professional, the program has been able to expand and grow throughout the years. Arts for Healing provides art kits for children waiting with loved ones; arts and crafts at a patient's bedside and in groups; and live musicians who perform in patient rooms and public spaces.

Licensed therapists within the program use the arts to access thoughts, feelings and memories in the creation of artwork to enhance healing and recovery. Certified music therapists encourage patients and family members to use song writing and music to address patients' cognitive, physical, emotional and spiritual health.

According to the program's founder, Betsy McClendon, the arts have a place within the healing process. McClendon is a designer by trade, and believes that art lifts the spirit and eases pain and suffering.

Together with a team of doctors and fellow Sharp HealthCare Foundation board members, she launched the program in 2007. It has benefited more than 50,000 patients and their families since its inception.

"The impact the program has had on patients dealing with mental illness, for cancer patients, for those receiving rehabilitation treatment and for soon-to-be mothers who are confined to bed rest and isolated from their families, is remarkable," says McClendon. "Patients often come back to tell us how much the arts helped in their personal healing process, and how they've continued the activities at home for their long-term health and wellness."

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