Karen Pence, Second Lady of the United States, visits art-therapy program at Florida Hospital

February 21, 2018

Karen Pence, Second Lady of the United States, visited the Florida Hospital Cancer Institute on Wednesday to spotlight and learn about the institute’s art therapy program.

Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, has championed art therapy as her signature initiative, which she has named “Art Therapy: Healing with the HeART.” 

As a watercolor artist and former elementary-school teacher, Mrs. Pence is passionate about elevating the art-therapy profession and ensuring that it is understood as a mental-health profession.

Research has shown that art-therapy sessions can improve pain, tiredness, depression, anxiety, drowsiness and appetite for adult cancer inpatients.

Florida Hospital’s Integrative and Creative Arts Therapy program offers monthly support groups and individual sessions for oncology patients. The program includes both music and art therapy services that provide an evidence-based approach to symptom management and emotional support. Art therapists are mental-health professionals who use art media and the creative process to explore emotional and psychosocial issues.

“Art therapy can play a crucial role in improving the health of all kinds of patients,” Pence said. “Florida Hospital and institutions across the country are elevating the importance of this field, and I’m pleased to see firsthand how their efforts are having such a beneficial healing effect.”

Mrs. Pence is working to encourage those who’ve been through trauma, or for whom other forms of therapy are not working, to try art therapy. In addition, she wants to encourage more young people to join the art-therapy field.

“We are honored to show Mrs. Pence the benefits patients receive through our art-therapy program,” said Eric Stevens, Chief Executive Officer for Acute Care Services at Florida Hospital. “We believe in treating the whole person — body, mind and spirt — and art therapy is a great example of that holistic philosophy.”

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