From gender-specific medicine to a kind of medicine. The story of an all-woman adventure: art therapy at the P.O. Martini Oncology Unit
Our story is set within the City of Turin Local Health Authority, where four women have brought to life a project that cost nothing at all, simply by “optimising” (as they say nowadays) valuable health authority resources. It was not us who decided that it should be a group of women to undertake this initiative; it was not us who decided that the patients able to take part in the experimental art therapy project Rebirth as a Lotus Flower, should be of the female sex, but sometimes things just happen; we could put it down to sensitivity.
When women, in the workplace as in life, find the fertile terrain of solidarity, intelligence and enterprise, they sow hope, skill and trust and they reap a grateful gaze and a smile that restore meaning to the work we do every day.
And this is a women’s story, one that started by chance, from the positive need of Gabriella, a health worker and art therapist who works for the Department of Prevention, to draw on her experience and professional skills to help others through art therapy. Gabriella’s desire was “intercepted” by Loredana, who also works for the authority in the communication for the Oncology Network sector, and she discussed it with Stefania, head of the Oncology Unit at P.O. Martini, with a view to developing a potential project with cancer patients in the follow-up phase.
But sometimes life sends us messages and it just so happened that about this time, Stefania met Monia, who was preparing a thesis regarding oncology for the Course on the facilitation of helping relationships - psychosynthetic psychology section, titled Creativity and human potential: growing through shapes.
This led to a meeting between the four in which Loredana and Stefania were admiring witnesses to the synergy, enthusiasm and positivity of Gabriella and Monia. It was not long before the Art Therapy – Rebirth as a Lotus Flower project became a reality.
We had to overcome certain obstacles, such where to hold the activity; but help came from another woman, the Healthcare Director of Martini Hospital, Elisabetta, who made the management department’s board room available. Within a few days, that board room had become a magic place full of colour paper, marker pens, coloured pencils, paints, brushes and natural and recycled materials to be used to express thoughts, feelings and states of mind.
Using drawing, collage, painting and colour, “all words”, even unspoken ones, can be expressed: “scenes of everyday life”, fears, pains, joys and hopes blend with the colours, and sometimes also the tears, but very often the laughter, companionship and will to live of the participants.
Art therapy, a type of medicine without contraindications, facilitates self-expression, meditation, change and personal growth. It allows people to make sense of what is happening in their lives, by making it more comprehensible and manageable, even starting merely from the world of the imagination, it boosts self-esteem, a factor that is “generally” protective for the health of everyone and, if it is gender-specific medicine, we like it even better.
Il team ArteTerapia
Moina Ferrato, Gabriella Garra, Loredana Masseria, Stefania Miraglia