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Art may not be able to cure disease, but it can surely make coping with it a lot better. Researchers have acknowledged the therapeutic qualities of art for years, and today, art therapy is used to help people express themselves when what they are feeling is too difficult to put into words, such as when they are faced with a cancer diagnosis.
Research shows this form of therapy often has tangible results. One 2006 study, for example, found that mindfulness art therapy for women with cancer helped to significantly decrease symptoms of physical and emotional distress during treatment. Another study from the same year concluded that after only one hour of art therapy, adult cancer patients of all ages overwhelmingly expressed comfort and a desire to continue with the therapy.
"People with cancer very often feel like their body has been taken over by the cancer. They feel overwhelmed," Joke Bradt, a music therapist at Drexel University in Philadelphia, told Reuters. "To be able to engage in a creative process... that stands in a very stark contrast to sort of passively submitting oneself to cancer treatments.
Its not just those with cancer that can benefit from the visual arts, either. Art therapy is also helpful among people dealing with a variety of other conditions, such as depression,dementia, anxiety, and PTSD.