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How to make art music and dance therapy work for you

With no known side effects, alternative healing methods such as art, music and dance therapy can help boost your mood and assist you in the process of cancer treatment or recovery.

Before launching into one of these supplemental therapies, take a look at some tips on how to get the most out of creative-arts intervention.

Discuss the therapies with your doctor first. Before trying any new therapies, especially something that could be more stressful on your body like dance therapy, consult your doctor to discuss if you are healthy enough to participate. Your doctor can also recommend licensed therapists in the area.

  • Work with a trained individual. Listening to a CD during your chemotherapy or radiation treatments is one type of music therapy. However, to get the most out of your experience, researchers suggest working with a trained individual to take the therapy to the next level.
  • Do not use these therapies as a replacement for treatment. These therapies are meant to supplement your traditional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Be sure to continue your recommended cancer treatments while participating in creative-arts intervention.
  • Try something new. Even if you have two left feet, dance therapy is a great way to increase physical activity. Don’t be afraid to try something new, as your therapist will be there to assist you from the start.
  • Be prepared to address difficult emotions. Dance, music and art therapy are designed to allow you to dig deep into your emotions and reveal how you are feeling about your cancer, treatments and/or recovery. Be ready to truly submit and embrace the numerous emotions that may emerge.
  • Have your caregiver or friends participate with you. Trying new activities can be intimidating, so ask if your caregiver or another friend will join you in a session or group activity. Having a loved one around can help you ease into an unfamiliar environment.
  • Stick with it. Creative-arts intervention is a process that can take time. One session can be helpful, but additional time and effort can make a real difference. Be ready to commit to participating in these therapy sessions for at least a few months, if you decide the process is right for you.
  • Put together a journal. Once you leave your therapy session or creative-arts activity, you might have additional thoughts or feelings. Keep a journal to record these thoughts to share with your therapist, or keep them private for yourself.
  • Be proud of what you have created. These therapies are designed to boost your mood and enhance your quality of life. Don’t be embarrassed if your drawings aren’t perfect or your voice is out of tune. Instead, be proud of what you have created, because it is the creative process (and not necessarily the finished product) that will assist you in your journey to wellness.
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