skip navigation nih record
Vol. LX, No. 8
April 18, 2008
cover

previous story

next story



Women’s History Month Reflects on Women’s Art, Vision

Expression, understanding, transformation. These are some of the qualities women bring to the art of science as celebrated at the 2008 NIH Women’s History Month observance, whose theme was “Women’s Art: Women’s Vision.”

In a keynote presentation titled, “Art therapy: A vision into our internal world,” Megan Robb, an art therapist in the recreation therapy section of the Clinical Center rehabilitation medicine department, shared how art therapy—a women-dominated field—can lead people through a creative process to help them heal, resolve conflicts, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress and improve self-esteem and awareness.

On hand at the women’s history observance were (from l) Sheila Egan, Clinical Center music therapist; Dr. Josephine Briggs, NCCAM director; and Megan Robb, CC art therapist.
Clinical Center recreation therapists (from l) Renee Stubbs, Natalie Haynes, Karen Perkins and Donna Gregory attended the Women’s History Month event.

Top:
On hand at the women’s history observance were (from l) Sheila Egan, Clinical Center music therapist; Dr. Josephine Briggs, NCCAM director; and Megan Robb, CC art therapist.

Above:
Clinical Center recreation therapists (from l) Renee Stubbs, Natalie Haynes, Karen Perkins and Donna Gregory attended the Women’s History Month event.

Quoting statistics published in February 2008 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robb said 1 in 4 U.S. women experience domestic violence: 1,200 women are killed and 2 million are injured annually as a result. This trauma creates a permanent health risk for survivors, especially in how they respond to stress, Robb said. Because trauma is often stored in the brain as an image rather than words, art therapy accesses those memories in a unique way and creates an external representation of the trauma that an individual can release. NIA acting deputy director Dr. Taylor Harden, who introduced Robb, emphasized the gift that art therapists can give patients by taking the art, which often represents pain, away from them.

Music therapists, most of whom are also female, know the power of lilting tones of speech, according to CC music therapist Sheila Egan. “Mother-ese,” the cooing moms use when speaking to their babies, is a recognized tongue that introduces humans to language skills, she said. Egan said her role is to create a moment of normalcy for CC patients in abnormal situations by using music to bring patients and families to a more centered place and reduce their anxiety. She played several musical selections for the group to demonstrate how different sounds can relax or animate the listener.

CC Chief Operating Officer Maureen Gormley, who gave opening remarks and moderated the event, noted the “balance of creativity, empathy and intellect that women bring to their work.” NCCAM director Dr. Josephine Briggs concluded the event by noting the “enormous value for health and wellness of interventions that produce a centeredness,” such as music and art therapy.

In remarks dedicating the occasion to Dr. Vivian Pinn, director of NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) said that when she entered the U.S. Senate in 1986, she was one of only two female senators and women’s health was not a national priority. Today there are 16 female senators working together on a bipartisan basis to add to the legacy of women’s history and Pinn’s office is “world-renowned,” she said. Mikulski thanked Pinn for “all you do every day to improve the health status of women in the United States and to keep the dream of America alive for all our daughters.” NIHRecord Icon

back to top of page