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Art Therapy

Art Therapy is an alternative therapy for people with Parkinson's. Art therapy uses art to work though different challenges in one's life. Art therapy has been shown to improve visual-cognitive skills and motor function. Through art therapy, the brain can make new and stronger connections within the parts of the brain that involves vision. There is some evidence that people with Parkinson's may have an increase in creativity and develop new interests in the creative realm. Some people think this is in part from dopaminergic medications, but we can see this change in other neurological conditions too so maybe it is the impact that neurological conditions have on our brain. Click on the video below to learn a bit more about what art therapy is.



Conditions likely to improve with Art Therapy

Visuospatial perception

This is the ability to have spatial awareness of our environment. An example could be correctly judging the height of a step or curb or correctly judging how far a cup on the table is away from you. If you are someone that frequently hits the corner of a wall when turning or over/under reaching for objects, you may have a perception deficit. This can have a negative effect on reading, driving, walking, and even doing simple house chores. The more impacted our perception is, the higher change of a fall. Art therapy can strengthen the parts of our brain involved in spatial awareness and improve our ability to better judge where things are in space.


Eye movements

People with Parkinson's can see changes in their eye movements, like slowness or jumpiness of eye movements. Art therapy can help our muscles and parts of our eye focus and change focus in a fun and engaging way. The best way to learn movements is to trick our body into doing the movements without really thinking about it. Art therapy can be a really successful way to do that!


Tremor and coordination

Relaxation can really help tremor, and so can working on intentionally moving one's arm in a goal oriented way like making a painting. Hand eye coordination is commonly impacted by PD, even if your spatial awareness if normal. Art therapy can help improve coordination and strengthen your motor control.


Isolation and depression

Art therapy is frequently conducted in classes. If exercise classes are not your thing, meeting people in this environment may be more inviting to you. Many people can find inspiration through other's art work and form connections that are unique. Many people also find immense emotional support in these environment for the person with PD and their care partner.



Studies have shown that people with PD who participate in art therapy report increased pleasure, improved coordination, a new sense of individuality, and improved concentration. Art can help us express ourselves in ways other than speech. While art therapy may not help with improve your speech, it can help people feel more understood and help strengthen relationships with people you have a hard time verbally communicating with. Art therapy in conducted in an environment that allows people to talk about their concerns, but in the mindset that everyone is there to make a mess artistically, and there is something really fun and uplifting about that. It provides a place for one to regain their freedom in decision-making, as too frequently people with PD feel like they have lost and/or are losing that freedom. Art therapy works on reducing stress and frustration by stimulating our inner imagination and creativity and promoting inner peace.


art therapy and PD


Art therapists near the capital district

The following are certified art therapists in our area:


Camille Grec, MA, LCAT, CH


Tracy Gilbert, MA, LMHC, ATR


Jennifer Horn, MA, ATR-BC, LCAT


Maureen Del Giacco, Ph.D., LCAT


Heather Hutchison, MA, LCAT, ATR-BC



Questioning whether art therapy is for you? Reach out to one of the art therapists in our area or talk with your neurologist! You do not have to be artistic to benefit from art, so don't let any lack of art abilities to stop you from trying this alternative therapy.



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