Mark Taper and Johnny Mercer Artists Program
At Children's Hospital Los Angeles, bandages, medicines and compassionate clinicians are not the only things relied upon for patients to heal. We also use paint, clay, musical instruments and poems to heal the whole child. To do this, we rely on art, dance, drama, music and expressive arts therapies.
By serving the whole child, instead of just their symptoms of illness or injury, our patients have better health outcomes. Through art and music, we help them alleviate anxiety, provide psychological support and offer creative outlets for self-expression.
Art Therapy Program Featured in Emmy Award-winning Series
Unlike the traditional art and recreation programs found in many hospitals, our artists program is an innovative model that brings together local artists, performers, and teachers with registered and certified Expressive Arts Therapists to meet the diverse needs of our patient population. This multidisciplinary approach offers our patients something beyond diversionary arts and crafts projects. All the while, young participants in the program are nurturing a life-long appreciation for the arts.
Our clinical goals in using expressive arts therapy for our patients are to:
Other goals of the program include a desire to:
Expressive Arts Therapies
As part of our clinical vision, Expressive Arts Therapists—including art therapists, music therapists and dance/movement therapists—work as part of the hospital’s Family-Centered Care, multidisciplinary treatment team.
These Expressive Arts Therapists are trained to assist patients and families in building creative coping skills, exploring the thoughts and feelings related to hospitalization and illness, and utilizing the arts for exploration and self-expression.
In fact, Expressive Arts Therapists are such an integrated part of the treatment team, that any clinician can order art, music, or dance/movement therapy for a patient with the touch of a button in their electronic medical chart. We are also very proud to be a premier clinical training site for students in the Expressive Arts Therapy fields.
We also conduct clinical research approved by our Internal Review Board and in accordance with our Human Subjects Protection Program in order to quantify our clinical outcomes and impact on patient care.
Since the program was founded in 1991, each year the Artists Program has reached thousands of children and families through:
The children's creativity brightens the hospital surroundings with art and poetry prominent on the lobby's donor wall, throughout the hospital's hallways, and in the healing gardens. Read more about our welcoming environment for care.
Education, Appreciation, and Performance
As part of our non-clinical vision, we collaborate with local volunteer groups to provide daily:
Patient Story: Camilla's First Smile
Born six weeks premature, Camilla (not her real name) was a patient in the Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Just two weeks after she was born, a nurse requested that a music therapist work with Camilla to help her develop while she was confined to her incubator to keep her temperature, humidity and oxygen levels precisely perfect for her while she grew stronger yet prevented her parents from holding her in their arms. Camilla was not healthy enough to be held by either of them.
Through a translator, our music therapist and program lead, Alexandra Field, learned that Camilla's father had played music for her regularly while she was still in the womb and was desperate to hold his baby girl, to help her get better. Through the help of the music therapist, Camilla’s dad stood directly in front of the baby's incubator as she began to slowly play "La Bamba," Dad's favorite song to sing to her in the womb. The therapist matched the rhythm of the music to the baby’s breathing to help Camilla relax and then began to sing.
As Camilla lay in her incubator with her eyes closed, both her body and face appeared to relax. The therapist took this opportunity to ask Camilla’s dad to sing along. Almost immediately, Camilla’s eyes opened. She looked at her father and maintained eye contact with him. After he had been singing for a couple of minutes, she gave him a smile out of the corner of her mouth. “She has never smiled at me! This is the first time!” exclaimed her dad. By this point, several nurses had gathered to witness the amazing interaction. After so many days of feeling sad, helpless and overwhelmed, Camilla’s father was delighted to share this experience with his daughter.
Because the type of support we provide is not reimbursed by insurance payers, our program is currently 100 percent philanthropically funded. Those who support the Mark Taper–Johnny Mercer Artists Program help introduce the healing power of the arts to thousands of young patients coping with illness and injury. You will help provide avenues of expression, choice, and control to children experiencing emotional pain and challenges.
Clinical Training/Internship Opportunities
Under the supervision of credentialed professionals, interns and trainees from accredited institutions specifically in clinical art, music, dance/movement, or drama therapy can gain valuable experience with patients by participating in our Expressive Arts Therapy Internship.