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Drexel, Johns Hopkins combine for new research

The Triangle

April 22, 2019


The shared research interest in creative arts therapies between Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions and the International Arts + Mind Lab of the Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University has led to the decision to collaborate on new creative arts therapies utilizing virtual reality.

Representatives from each university will examine the use of virtual reality in established art therapy sessions. Girija Kaimal is an assistant professor in CNHP’s Department of Creative Arts Therapies. Her research focuses on understanding the way that self-expression affects human emotion and other brain processes.

Susan Magsamen is the executive director at the IAM Lab. Magsamen pioneered the Impact Thinking model. At the lab, she combines interdisciplinary, evidence-based research with practical, applicable ideas and programs.

There has been no research previously done on how art therapy can be successfully integrated into a virtual reality-based experience to enhance patient care. Traditional art therapy has to do with using physical materials and art-making processes to help patients manage challenges like trauma or everyday stress. It is all about delivering successful mental health interventions using art and creative expression.

Findings from Kaimal and Magsamen’s research could help expand arts therapy opportunities into clinical places like physical rehabilitation and to clinical populations like those who are facing physical challenges and stressors.

“We are very excited to explore innovative art therapies and its impact in our lives,” Kaimal said. “This promising partnership brings together two institutions invested in creative approaches to promoting health and enhancing well-being across the lifespan.”