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The Healing Powers of Art Therapy: A Mother’s Perspective

By Amy Graver, Mom of an Advocate Children’s Hospital patient
Published on April 12, 2016

Kate Pfeiffer

Prior to our daughter’s cancer diagnosis, we were not familiar with child life services, nor had we ever heard of an art therapist. But then again, we hadn’t heard of a lot of things we know about now.

We met art therapist Kate Pfeiffer on my daughter’s first day in the oncology clinic. From our first interaction, Kate was able to accurately read our daughter’s emotions and immediately began to help her express those emotions through art. Kate has this special ability to tailor her visits to match what my daughter and her siblings needed that day. Sometimes it’s expressing feelings about her diagnosis. And other times, it’s just tapping into the talents of an amazingly creative person who has a remarkable connection with kids.

On an extended hospital stay, my daughter’s room was covered with the results of Kate’s art classes. She taught my kids how to draw their favorite animals on the white board, made an iPad movie with my daughter that animated her stuffed animals, and a whole wall was covered with a jungle scene made of washi tape that recreated a cartoon from wrapping paper. They made clay animals, created a get well poster for visitors to sign, and Kate helped them cover the windows—using up a pack of window markers—with messages and drawings.

Each time Kate stops by, my daughter lights up. When our other kids accompany my daughter to the hospital or clinic, one of the first questions is “do we get to see Kate today?”

Discovering art therapy and Kate’s talents has been a silver lining in this diagnosis. We are profoundly grateful for our medical team and their efforts to care for our daughter. However, we have come to know that her healing is more than what the doctors and nurses can provide. Her healing is also dependent on the health of her emotions and spirit. And for that, we are profoundly grateful for Kate.