If you or someone you love is impacted by cancer, you know how challenging the experience can be.  Facing physical, emotional, financial and social stress – all at the same time – can sometimes lead to anxiety, depression, and feelings of burnout.

A more calm and peaceful state of mind is possible when you find ways to deal with these stressors and process the emotions they give rise to. In addition to meeting with a Dempsey Center counselor or attending a support group, you might find it helpful to attend an expressive arts workshop.

What are expressive arts?

Unlike art created with the goal of making a specific product, expressive arts are all about the process of creating, offering a powerful outlet for people to explore and release strong thoughts and feelings. Artistic activities such as painting, listening to or playing music, collage making and writing all offer this type of creative outlet that can help people experience healing and growth.

For Gerri, participating in a four-week journaling workshop at the Dempsey Center helped her come to terms with her husband’s advanced cancer diagnosis. “There is something about putting my pen to paper that really opens things up for me,” Gerri noted.  “Until the class, I didn’t even realize how much I was keeping everything locked inside, and how much of a toll that was taking on me.  Simply writing things out in response to the prompts the instructor offered, and then sharing the pieces that I wanted to with other participants, really lightened my load.”

The Dempsey Center offers expressive arts workshops for adults and youth. “People sometimes forget what an impact cancer has on the youngest members of the family,” Kailie Sullivan, Youth and Family Services Manager reminds us. “Art—like play— is a very natural way for children to express their feelings.  Talk therapies that may work well for adults are not often the most natural fit for kids and teens—and sometimes not for adults, either. Bringing expressive arts into our counseling sessions as well as our programs has really helped many people find some relief from the constant worry and stress of a cancer impact.”

If you are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, either your own or that of a loved one, consider attending an expressive arts class at either Dempsey Center location. You’ll be glad you did!

About the Dempsey Center
The Dempsey Center is committed to making life better for people managing the impact of cancer. With locations in South Portland and Lewiston, the Dempsey Center provides services that help individuals and families maintain physical and emotional wellness as they deal with a cancer diagnosis. Understanding that cancer impacts the whole family, the Dempsey Center provides specialized services for children and teens and their families. All services are provided at no charge.