I am part of the medical team. In place of a stethoscope and thermometer, my little black bag is a cart loaded with art supplies — paper, paints, pastels, pictures clipped from magazines and modeling clay. Through the language of art, I help kids bring voice to feelings they may not be able to verbalize or may not even be aware of.
Every day, I see children and teens who are dealing with physical discomfort, loss of control and loss of choice. Stressors of the hospital experience — like facing a scary procedure or not being able to play a favorite sport — can bring kids to places of anxiety, resistance, withdrawal and despondency.
I help them cope.
I meet my patients where they are emotionally and provide them with an avenue of expression while they’re confined to the hospital. The work we do together helps them engage in life and shift from feeling passive to playful.
For some children, the process provides a distraction from illness or pain — and the benefit is entirely in the moment. For others, the art creates a sense of empowerment and a stronger sense of self — these effects can last a lifetime.
For all of these children and teens, the artwork helps their care teams see them as unique individuals — not just as a patient or a diagnosis. For their families, this may be one of the most healing things of all.
Learn more about Child Life programs, including art therapy.
I Am Seattle Children's: The People Behind the Care
Find more videos and stories of the providers, staff, supporters, patients, families, volunteers and friends who make up the Seattle Children's family.
Visit I Am Seattle Children's.