Counseling & Support: Art Therapy

Pictured: Sarah D'Agostino Art therapist Sarah D'Agostino supports Memorial Sloan Kettering patients through our program.

Creative expression can often help people with cancer as well as their caregivers, families, and friends cope with the treatment and recovery process. Art therapy — the integration of artistic expression into the healing process — can be emotionally restorative and can serve as an outlet for expressing your feelings about illness, treatment, and life itself.

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we invite all current and former patients to participate in an art therapy program that includes drawing, painting, and other media. In this program, you can work with our trained therapist in a safe, private, and relaxing environment to find ways to express your experiences through art. No prior art experience is required.

Regardless of your stage of treatment or recovery at Memorial Sloan Kettering, you are welcome at the art therapy Open Studio, along with your family members, friends, and caregivers.

Benefits of Art Therapy

The process of seeing and exploring the images you create through art therapy can distract you from health issues as well as help you:

  • become more self-aware
  • express fears, anxieties, and other emotions that may be difficult to verbalize
  • communicate and interact more effectively with others
  • build self-esteem
  • lessen stress
  • improve quality of life
  • find comfort, freedom, and hope

In our program, you have the chance to express yourself, treat yourself to a relaxing and restorative activity, and even connect with others going through cancer treatment and recovery.

Cultivating Your Creativity

Regardless of whether you're a beginner or an experienced artist, you can choose from a variety of hands-on materials, techniques, and tools to get your ideas flowing, including:

  • watercolors (paints, pens, pencils, and crayons)
  • pastels
  • collage materials and colored paper (origami and tissue)
  • acrylic paints
  • drawing instruments (charcoal and graphite pencils, pens, and ink)
  • modeling clay
  • scratchboard

We emphasize the creative journey — not the end product — by encouraging you to think about your artwork in the same way you would reflect on a dream: talk about it, showcase it, develop it further, or simply let it go.

Art Therapy Opportunities

The following programs are located at the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center (300 East 66th Street) in the Cynthia Lufkin Fitness and Seminar Room on the second floor.

Art Therapy Open Studio

Every Tuesday, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Open studio gives you the opportunity to participate in art therapy at a time that's convenient for you. We offer Open Studio every Tuesday for people who are currently receiving or who have completed active treatment for cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also welcome to take part. You can develop your own creation or follow step-by-step instructions for a structured art project.

Art Therapy Program for Breast Cancer Patients and Their Children

One Tuesday per month, 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

In this specialized program, mothers, grandmothers, and caregivers undergoing treatment for breast cancer — together with their children ages 5 to 12 — can learn creative ways to enhance communication, using various art therapy techniques and tools. You can apply the techniques learned in this program at home as well. Many families have found that their communication has improved as a result of participating in this group.

Portfolio Gallery and Revolving Exhibits

We also offer our participants the opportunity to showcase the work they create in the Open Studio to the public. You can submit two-dimensional pieces (up to 14 inches by 18 inches) to be exhibited on the walls of the second floor of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center. Works of art are also selected for exhibition in the art therapy studio on a rotating basis.

Learn More

For more information about our art therapy program, please contact art therapist Sarah D'Agostino at 646-888-5397 or e-mail dagostis@mskcc.org.