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“What are the arts useful for?”


 Conversations around the intersection of arts and health identify the value of the arts only to the extent of their utility. In this project we aim to challenge the systematic instrumentalization of the arts by thinking beyond utility and providing a lens-based model of artistic value.  



As practitioners of health and well-being, we recognize that the practice of care is at least partially determined by how we orient and relate to our patients and clients, as well as how they relate to us. We recognize that there are different approaches to interactions, from dialectic relationships that centralize the alleviation of suffering to dialogic methods in which practitioners offer holistic care for thriving beyond the relief of pain. Navigating individual preferences for particular approaches is an important factor that must be considered both by those seeking healing and those offering it. For example, some patients and clients seek to befriend their healthcare professionals, while others prefer to maintain their distance. Whether or not an appropriate relationship is established often depends on how committed both parties are to health and well-being. 

Practitioners who are committed to supporting their patients often look to the arts for support in deeper dimensions of health and well-being. As practitioners operating at the nexus of creative practice and public health, we often find ourselves trying to justify the role of the arts in healing. Given our focus on the quality of clinical relationships that are supporting health and well-being. Rather than provide a justification here, we find it valuable to clarify our understanding of healing and treatment as concepts, as well as the way particular approaches of relating can promote or inhibit healing and care. We find that clarifying terms and expectations in a clear, systematic way can lead to generative disruption that promotes the quality of partnering, translating to ethical dialogue and collaboration in therapeutic settings.


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