Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Art of Music Therapy

As an art therapist and a musician, I completely understand the power of music therapy. (I've even thought about going back to school for a music therapy degree, but the opportunity hasn't presented itself yet.) Here's some great reports about our cousin in the creative arts therapies.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) Listening to music can put you in a good mood, but on-going research proves it can literally improve a person's overall health.

On-going research has shown that playing live, structured and uncomplicated music for infants can decrease heart rates, increase oxygen intake, lower cortisol levels and facilitate development. Certified practitioners say music therapy can sometimes reach patients in ways other therapies cannot.

The University of Alabama is the only school in the state offering a degree in Music Therapy and as CBS 42's Leigh Garner reports, the benefits of a good song could be life changing.

The University of Alabama is the only school in the state with a program and degree for Musical Therapy. Department heads and professors run clinicals at various facilities as part of the degree requirements and to further their research. In recent studies they have discovered playing live, simple, and structured music can actually lower stress levels in adults and children. In premature babies, musical therapy also decreases the amount of time many infants must stay in the hospital. Practicioners say the difference musical therapy can make in a patient's life is visible and recognizable, while it can also provide financial benefits for hospitals and insurance providers.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Every day in the United States, 46 children are diagnosed with cancer. One
out of five don't survive treatment, but music is helping young patients heal emotionally and physically.

Eleven-year-old Alex Harkins has been coming to Texas Children's Hospital since before she could talk.

"I had a tumor on my liver," Harkins told Ivanhoe.

Doctors removed it, but during follow up visits, she discovered a special place here -- a recording studio where kids write down their feelings and put them to music.

"Anything that kids can do that brings them joy helps to boost their immune system," Anita Kruse, founder of Purple Songs Can Fly at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas, explained.

Research shows music helps calm patients during procedures, promotes relaxation and sleep, and reduces pain and treatment side effects. Harkins has been cancer free for ten years. Her message to other kids

"Don't give up now matter how hard it gets," Harkins said.

Children from around the world have recorded in this studio. Their songs are heard played on Continental Airlines flights. The music recorded at the studio has also flown into space. One of the NASA astronauts took two of the CDs on a shuttle mission to the international space station.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Farewell to Helen Landgarten,0,1745408.story

Helen B. Landgarten dies at 89; pioneering art therapist

The L.A. painter established a clinical art therapy program combining art and counseling at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and graduate departments at two schools.

By Claire Noland, Los Angeles Times

February 26, 2011

Helen B. Landgarten, a Los Angeles artist and pioneering art therapist who established a clinical art therapy program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and graduate departments in art therapy at Immaculate Heart College and Loyola Marymount University, has died. She was 89.

Landgarten died Wednesday at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after suffering a stroke, Loyola Marymount announced.

In the 1970s, Landgarten helped legitimize art therapy, which combines art and counseling, on the West Coast. Practitioners say that art therapy can be an effective diagnostic and treatment tool during psychotherapy sessions, particularly with children, adolescents, families and groups.

"I can have a family create some art together and in about a half-hour, by the way they have proceeded — who went first, who went last, the whole mechanism, observing all that — I could tell you what the family system is, what role each person played, how they functioned as a unit," Landgarten said in a 1986 interview with The Times. "Now when people come to a clinic, they don't push and shove each other like they might at home. You know people are on their best behavior, so the art can be symbolic of what happens in their daily lives."

Art also provides mental health patients with a positive, creative outlet and allows them to communicate with others in nonverbal ways, Landgarten said. And the art produced is tangible evidence of the effort made in the treatment process.

A painter, she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree at UCLA in 1963. She was drawn to psychotherapy in the 1960s and '70s, said Debra Linesch, chairman of the graduate department of marital and family therapy at Loyola Marymount.

"As a painter, she recognized the deeper connection between art and the unconscious, one's own inner life," Linesch said in an interview Friday.

Landgarten earned a master's degree in marital and family therapy at Goddard College in Vermont in 1972 and introduced a clinical art therapy practice to Thalians Community Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai.

In 1976, she founded a master's degree program in art therapy at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, the first of its kind on the West Coast. After the college closed in 1980, she moved the program to Loyola Marymount. She directed the program and taught courses until 1988, when she retired.

She was the author of academic textbooks, including "Clinical Art Therapy," "Family Art Psychotherapy," "Adult Art Psychotherapy" and "Magazine Photo Collage."

In retirement, she remained active at Loyola Marymount's Helen B. Landgarten Art Therapy Clinic, which works with children and families.

Born Helen Barbara Tapper in Detroit on March 4, 1921, she married Nathan Landgarten in 1942. They had two children, daughter Aleda and son Marc, who survive her.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Sunday at Mount Sinai Memorial Park, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles.