Driscoll Children's Hospital's Art Therapy in Corpus Christi

Driscoll Children’s Hospital’s Inaugural Art Therapy Program

Haven Wright, Driscoll's first Art Therapist offers groundbreaking art therapy for youth mental health.

a photo of Haven Wright, Driscoll Children's Hopsital's first art therapist.

Haven Wright, ATR-P, Driscoll's first-ever art therapist. | Photography by Robin Blackshear

According to Mental Health America, Texas ranked 46th in the U.S. last year for mental health care accessibility to youth. As part of its commitment to increase mental health accessibility, Driscoll Children’s Hospital offers therapeutic arts and mental and behavioral health services to its young patients.

Housed under Driscoll’s Child Life and Therapeutic Arts Department, the therapeutic arts program addresses patients who need mental health care, a therapeutic outlet or emotional support during their healthcare experience. Art therapy is integrated into mental health and applied psychological theory, and can enrich the lives of individuals through creative, expressive and therapeutic art-making sessions. Art therapists are master ’s-level mental health professionals trained in visual arts, the creative process, human development and behavior, psychology, mental disorders and counseling theories and techniques, as well as social, cultural and family issues.

 “Initially, I introduce myself to the patient, explain the process of art therapy and talk to them about their past experiences with art and counseling,” explained Haven Wright, Driscoll’s first-ever art therapist. “These conversations help me understand the patient and how I can help.”

Wright offers materials at the bedside or in the art therapy studio on Driscoll’s campus. Materials available include Lego bricks, Model Magic clay, colored pencils, paints, collage materials, stickers, etchings and sewing and crochet materials, just to name a few. Technology is also available to explore digital art-making through drawing programs and 3D modeling. 

Interventions used during sessions are specially designed to assist patients with accessing a nonverbal means of communication, decreasing anxiety, addressing depression, pain management, emotional regulation, empowerment, grief/trauma debriefing and support, identifying coping skills, fostering self-esteem, processing medical diagnoses and treatment, stress reduction and relaxation.

“Patients don’t realize how much they open up while they are creating,” Wright said when reflecting on the power art therapy sessions have on facilitating healing. “It’s vulnerable to discuss thoughts and emotions, and instead of getting stuck there, patients can get into the flow of the creative process, allowing the conversation to develop naturally. At the end of the session, patients are left with something they’ve created with their vulnerability.”

According to a study published in The Arts in Psychotherapy, participating in art therapy can improve mood and reduce pain and anxiety in children as well as adults. In light of this, Wright stated, “I stress to patients that there are no expectations for how something should look. The biggest misconception is that art has to be perfect or photorealistic to be ‘good,’ but art therapy is about reconnecting with the feeling of making art we enjoy. Art is for everyone, regardless of artistic training or talent.” 

Contact: Behavioral and Mental Health Department (361) 694-5650