Chronic pain patients at The James Cook University Hospital are set to benefit from a unique arts psychotherapy programme led by local artist and art psychotherapist Kelly Jayne.
The sessions, which will be held at mima (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art), will encourage patients to discover new ways of managing their pain as well as providing an opportunity to socialise.
“It will encourage us to focus on the positive things we are still able to do – rather than the things we are unable to do – and hopefully develop into a model that could become a lifeline for us. For example if it leads to real work.” said patient Jill Goody of Hartlepool, who suffers constant neurogenic and mechanical back and leg pain.
As a former graphic designer Jill finds painting at home therapeutic but she only picked up her paint brushes again recently when she was asked if she had ever tried to paint her pain. She said: “I’m able to tune out of the pain and focus on the paint, colour and subject.
“Pain is a great excluder. Isolation, being stuck indoors, being dependent on others, getting depressed – it’s all a vicious circle. Our hydrotherapy group at James Cook is currently the main weekly activity for us, there is a level of understanding and empathy that you won’t find anywhere else. I really hope it develops within this arts psychotherapy group too.”
Fellow patient Debbie Moore of Guisborough has seen first-hand the benefits of using distraction as a means of managing pain.
“Before my car accident, I had just begun to develop my own business using therapeutic artwork in schools,” she said.
“Now I will be exploring my creative side in a completely new way, as it is my right hand and arm that is affected and I was right-handed previously.
“I am hoping that these new sessions will help move people forward with their lives and find new ways of managing chronic conditions.”
The programme will culminate in an exhibition of the group’s work at mima and a selection of the work will also be displayed in the pain clinic waiting area at James Cook.
Kelly said: “Our patients will be encouraged to engage in using art materials, movement and drama to express and explore their emotions. The focus is to provide an opportunity for people to explore their feelings through the creative process. We hope that the group sessions and the resulting exhibition will give the patients the opportunity to share what it feels like to have chronic pain. I feel excited at the potential of this project and hope it becomes available to more people.”
Senior physiotherapist Richard King said: “This is truly a unique project that promotes patient empowerment and the use of non-medical intervention to improve health. Chronic pain can reduce people’s confidence to go out and meet new people but this project should encourage them to try new things. Plus getting your work exhibited at mima is no mean feat!”
The project is funded by the Arts Council with additional support from local charity Free From Pain. The first session starts on Saturday 2 February 2013.
Marie Neeson, education and audience development manager at mima, added: “We are delighted to be working with artist Kelly Jayne and patients and staff from The James Cook University Hospital. This initiative will enhance mima’s programme by welcoming an important audience group to get involved in activity, and we hope that it will provide everyone with great experiences that can continue well into the future.”