Art Therapy for Hospitalized Children (Inspired by Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross's Approach)
Pediatric Wards School, Hadassah Hospital (Ein Karem and Mt. Scopus), Jerusalem
This paper presents a combined strategy for coping with the emotional condition of hospitalized children, and reports the results of its implementation in pediatric wards. The strategy combines art therapy methods with the spiritual-psychological approach developed by Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross. Art therapy uses art for therapeutic and diagnostic purposes; in this study it was employed to encourage the child-patients to express their feelings, and lead them to processes of understanding of and adjustment to their conditions. Kuebler-Ross' methods, known for dealing with difficult emotional situations at the bedside of the seriously ill, were enlisted to build a relationship of trust and respect between patient and therapist.
The population dealt with consisted of children (age 3-13) injured in road accidents, and cardiac and oncological cases. 7 case studies are brought to demonstrate the integrated therapeutic process. The process starts from the child-patient's artwork, which allows the therapist better insight into emotional conditions and to relate closely to issues brought up by the work. Through conversation with the therapist in an atmosphere of empathy and honest consideration, the patient becomes aware of her/his reactions, behavior, intentions and ambitions.
The belief underlying this study is that the patient derives from these contacts new abilities which moderate anxieties and strengthen healthy energies. Better collaboration and sounder ways of coping with intrusive medical treatment, as well as more trust and hope seem to emerge from the relationships created by these contacts.
* Principal of School.