Health Scan: When there are simply no words, pictures can help

Art therapy enables a client to expose feelings first through non-verbal symbols.

health care kids 88 (photo credit: )
health care kids 88
(photo credit: )
Drawing helps children whose fathers are drug addicts express their feelings, according to a study carried out at the University of Haifa's School of Creative Arts Therapies. "It's difficult to verbally describe a trauma, yet the body remembers it," said Prof. Rachel Lev-Wiesel, who heads the school and conducted the study with Revital Liraz of the Hosen Center in Beersheba. "The use of art seems to help," Lev-Wiesel said. Art therapy enables a client to expose feelings first through non-verbal symbols. The Graduate School of Creative Arts Therapies at the University of Haifa is the first Israeli academic track that grants an MA in creative arts therapies. Participating in the study were 60 children aged nine to 14, arbitrarily divided into two groups. The first group were asked to draw their life in the shadow of a drug-addicted father, and then to describe their experiences to a social worker. The second group was asked to describe life with a drug-addicted father without the use of drawings. It was observed that already while drawing, the first group of children spoke freely. An analysis of the narratives provided by the two groups revealed that the descriptions given by those children who had been asked to draw first included more feelings and sensations, were longer and expressed optimism for the future. The children in the second group were more reluctant to talk. Their narratives were shorter, without feeling and less coherent. "Emotional-verbal ability is crucial for growth and social skills, so enabling a child to increase ability of expression and sharing by means of drawing pictures is beneficial in contributing to the efficiency and effectiveness of therapy," Lev-Wiesel concluded. 'CLEAN PLATE CLUB' has a DOWN SIDE Parents may have good intentions by forcing their kids to eat everything on their plate, but this approach may backfire, according to US researchers. Dr. Brian Wansink of Cornell University in New York and Collin Payne of New Mexico State University asked 63 mothers of preschool-age children the extent to which they tell their children to clean their plates. The researchers then asked the children how much sweet breakfast cereal they would like for their morning snack at day care. Children were able to fill their bowl until they indicated they had enough, and the bowl was weighed. "We found that the more controlling the parents were about telling their child to clean their plate, the more likely the kids - especially the boys - were to request larger portions of sweetened cereal," said Wansink in a statement reported by UPI. "Parents who force their kids to clean their plates at meals may be interfering with the development of self control," Payne added. "When children have little control over what they eat or don't eat, they may react by acting out and overeating when away from home." A LITTLE SCRATCH PRODUCES BABY Even when the results of the basic research at the Weizmann Institute of Science are translated directly to medical application, it could take years to reach patients. But occasionally a new finding can change lives almost immediately. In 2006, Prof. Nava Dekel of the Rehovot institute's biological regulation department and doctors in the in-vitro fertilization unit (IVF) of Kaplan Medical Center, made a surprising discovery. They found that when performing a uterine biopsy, causing a slight injury to the lining of the uterus just before a woman undergoes IVF doubles the chances of a successful pregnancy. Although the mechanism was not completely clear, Dekel and her team assumed that the injury provokes a response in the uterus that makes it more receptive to an embryo's implantation. The following year, Dekel was in Toronto to lecture as part of the Weizmann Women and Science series. Her lecture was reported in detail in a local Jewish paper, where it caught the attention of Howard and Roslyn Kaman. After many years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, failed IVF and miscarriages, the article gave the couple hope. They e-mailed Dekel, who referred them to Drs. Amichai Barash and Irit Granot, who had participated in the original research. The Kaplan doctors sent, as requested, a detailed description of the procedure, which was then performed in a Toronto fertility clinic. The result: A healthy baby girl, Hannah Esther Angel Kaman, was born this past October.