The Power of Creativity for Healing

NACHC has invested in a unique webinar series that shines a light on the ways art and creativity can enhance healing in the Community Health Center setting and recharge care teams. As our Senior Fellow Grace Wang, MD, MPH, FAAFP, says: “It’s important to give the part of our brain that’s overused an opportunity to rest.”

The next webinar in the four-part series, “Connecting Through Art with Zufall Health,” takes place on February 15.

Creativity at Health Centers for Mental Health and Innovation

Movement, visual arts, writing/poetry, spoken art, and music are among many options for creativity. It’s our hope that these webinars offer more “tools in the toolbox” for both health center staff and patients. These creative activities have proven to yield benefits for mental health and innovation. 

Girija Kaimal, a leading researcher in art therapy, tells us that “flexing our creative side can give us a stronger sense of agency – the ability to solve problems by imagining possible solutions,” and that “making art can feel pretty awesome…engaging in any act of visual expression activates the reward pathway in your brain which is perceived as a pleasurable experience.”

NACHC’s Creativity & Healing Webinar Series

The first webinar in the series was called “Daydream with Purpose.” Ammonoosuc Community Health Services (ACHS) showed us how their clinics hold Haiku and mandala-coloring contests to help staff connect, relax, and refocus.

Leadership has a key role to play in supporting these efforts. “It’s important to invest in staff,” says Ed Shanashala, M-ED, CEO at ACHS. “We are the culture, and we are all we have.”

Here’s the winning Haiku chosen by ACHS staff:

Just be kind always.  

Many battles are unseen.  

Care for each other

Stephanie Olivera, APRN, winner of the contest, guided webinar participants through a thoughtful and interactive poetry writing exercise to demonstrate the ACHS process and Haiku structure (Line 1 = 5 syllables; Line 2 = 7 syllables, Line 3=5 syllables). She stressed that a Haiku can be about anything a person wants to share. It can be created in just a few minutes but serve as an important and lasting mental release. Her haiku is now featured on ACHS’s staff appreciation t-shirt.

One heartfelt Haiku shared by a webinar participant expressed her appreciation for her own health center:

Love is deeper here.  

Learning something new daily.  

Respect the process.

Dramatic Reading of “Nurse Antigone: Socrates

The second workshop featured a unique project called “The Nurse Antigone,” by and for nurses, produced by Theater of War Productions. It was a dramatic reading of Sophocles’ Antigone on Zoom with professional actors and a Nurse Chorus featuring frontline health center nurses Tonya Britt, LPN, and Kayshawn Carter-David, LPN, from the Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, and Karrie Prinzi, RN, from Tri-County Family Medicine. 

The reading was followed by a 45-minute facilitated discussion designed to generate compassion, unity, and healing from the moral distress many nurses experienced during the pandemic. Deeply meaningful experiences were shared, and as one Roanoke participant observed, while we may be humble in our approach and thoughtful in our tactics, [nurses] are fierce in our delivery, love, and caring.“

“Nurse Antigone was raw and real, and served as a needed connection to share our experiences working with patients – which [as nurses] sometimes costs us a bit of ourselves…we need to be kind to our coworkers and staff.”

Karrie Prinzi, Nurse Chorus Member

The entire program celebrates, advocates, and acknowledges the critical role health center nurses and care team members play.

Next Webinar: “Connecting Through Art with Zufall Health

In the third of NACHC’s four-part series, we will explore how Zufall Health Center incorporates visual arts into their programming, therapeutic techniques, and on their clinic walls in ways that enhance healing with dignity and beauty. 

This hands-on, guided experience on February 15 at 3 pm EST will surely inspire you. Register now for the Zufall Health Center webinar.

Save the date: The final webinar in this four-part series will be held on April 19

If you’d like to learn more or share your health center experience with the arts, please contact Katja Laepke, klaepke@nachc.com.

Learn more tips to bring more art and creativity into your life and practice.