Art Therapy Helps Kids with Asthma

Fox News reports on a small study indicating that art therapy makes children less anxious about their asthma. Published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, the results suggest ‘encouraging initial data’ that art therapy improves the emotional health of children with chronic conditions such as asthma.

Asthma is the leading cause of children missing school, and an estimated one in ten children suffers from the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control. When it comes to asthma, controlling anxiety affects the condition itself since anxiety can actually bring on an asthma attack. Authors of the study write, ‘Simply thinking about past asthma attacks can bring on feelings of anxiety.’

Art therapy is more involved than simply drawing or painting. Rather, children work with therapists to express feelings through their art that may be hard for them to put in words. Art therapist Anya Beebe at National Jewish Health in Denver and leader of the study puts it this way: ‘It's not about painting pretty pictures. It's about helping people go deeper and using art as a process to express and release their feelings.’

Dr. Beebe's study involved studying two groups of children between the ages of seven and fourteen who had persistent asthma; one group received art therapy for seven weeks while the other did not. The children were tested for coping skills, self-concept, anxiety, worry, and quality of life before and after the seven weeks.

At the end of the seven weeks, the group of children who had received art therapy was found to have lower anxiety levels and higher quality of life and self-concept scores. These improvements continued six months later.

To learn more, visit the American Association of Art Therapy.

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