Ep. 136 Transcript

Disclaimer: This is transcribed using AI. Expect (funny) errors.

Mindy Peterson: [00:00:00] I’m Mindy Peterson. And this is Enhance Life with Music, a holistic look at the power of music in our everyday lives. If you’ve listened to the show for long, you know that I’m a huge proponent of music as a tool for healing and well-being. We’re talking today about an organization that exists to advance the arts as a vital component for healing public health and well-being. This organization is known by the acronym NOAHH, stands for the National Organization for Arts in Health. With me today is Ferol Carytsas, who was a founding board member of NOAH and is now the assistant director and lecturer with the University of Florida Center for Arts and Medicine. Welcome to Enhance Life with Music, Ferol.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:00:49] Thank you, Mindy. So happy to be here.

Mindy Peterson: [00:00:51] Well, Ferol, NOAH was established fairly recently in 2016, but it has roots dating back to 1989. Can you just start out by telling us what NOAH is and how it started or why it started?

Ferol Carytsas: [00:01:05] Sure. The National Organization for Arts and Health, or NOAH, is an organization that focuses on the future of arts, health and well-being. NOAH’s mission is to unite, advance and serve the field of arts and health. And the vision is that arts and health is an integral component to health and well-being. So NOAH, as you mentioned, was founded in 2016, but its roots go back to 1989. This group was originally founded as the Society of Health Care Arts Administrators, which later became the Society for the Arts and Health Care, then the Global Alliance for Arts and Health. Then finally, the Arts and Health Alliance before disbanding in 2014. These former arts and health organizations laid the foundation for our field, and we certainly would not be where we are today without them.

Mindy Peterson: [00:01:57] Like most organizations, there’s a whole team and an army of people behind their genesis that have contributed in some way or another. So no exception here. It sounds.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:02:08] Like. Not at all. Absolutely.

Mindy Peterson: [00:02:11] Tell me a little bit about the membership, because I was really, I guess, surprised. I shouldn’t have been, probably, but I was sort of surprised to see the scope of members. I automatically thought of music therapists and other artistic arts therapists, but I saw that members include architects and designers and representatives of creative and cultural agencies. Tell us about some of the other members that people may not automatically think of and may not automatically come to mind when we think of what that membership may be.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:02:44] Sure. So I think, first of all, I just want to say that arts and health is such an interdisciplinary field. So when we think about arts and health professionals, those people can include artists and residents, arts administrators, arts educators, musicians, visual artists, actors, dancers, poets, museum educators, guest performers, teaching artists, guest artists. And I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but I think it just speaks to the interdisciplinarity of our field and how the idea of this organization is that it is really open to both the health care side as well as art side.

Mindy Peterson: [00:03:20] Well, one thing I liked was just reading NOAHA’s. It’s probably not really their mission statement, but they aim to shape a reality where the arts are accepted and fully incorporated into medical treatment. Medical education, prevention, which I love. That’s a big one for me, and public health and wellbeing. Most of my listeners are probably very sympathetic to the idea of utilizing arts and health, but can you just lay out for us what the benefits are? What are the benefits of implementing arts in the healing process, including some of those quantifiable benefits to health care institutions like financial efficiencies and duration of hospital stays and medication use and things like that?

Ferol Carytsas: [00:04:04] Sure. So I actually want to pause for a second and take a moment to define arts and health. So arts and health also sometimes referred to as arts and medicine or arts. And health care is a diverse, multidisciplinary field dedicated to transforming health and the health care experience through the arts. The field integrates literary performing and visual arts and design and other forms of creative expression into a variety of health care and community settings to enhance health and well-being in diverse institutional and community contexts. So I’ll talk a little bit later. I think about arts and health professionals, but arts and health professionals are individuals who apply their professional knowledge and skills to enhance health and well-being through the arts, ensuring participant safety and program effectiveness, and working within their qualifications from experience, training and education. So to go back and answer your question regarding the benefits, there is so much research that demonstrates how the arts can enhance well-being. For example, music can reduce pain, boost mood, build healthy habits, and improve lives for people with conditions from PTSD to dementia. One personal experience I had was when I was doing bedside work.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:05:23] I walked into a patient’s room who was experiencing extreme pain from kidney stones. I started playing for the patient and when I was finished, the patient said, Wow, I think the vibrations of your instrument helped shift my kidney stone. Thank you. This is the first time I felt any pain relief. Now, while music isn’t not going to shift everyone’s kidney stones. It is a great example of how powerful music can be. Another experience was when I was working with a dementia patient who had become non-verbal. I started playing a song and the patient’s face lit up and he began singing along with accurate lyrics and then told me this beautiful story about how this song was the first song he danced to at his wedding. At the end of that session, the staff came up to me and said, I don’t know how you did that. This patient has not verbally communicated at all in over three weeks. And of course, going into that, I had no idea. So that was just one of those heartfelt moments of like, wow, you know, how special. So you.

Mindy Peterson: [00:06:25] Didn’t have any idea the connection that he had with that song.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:06:28] Did not.

Mindy Peterson: [00:06:29] Choice and selection.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:06:31] It was completely serendipitous. So I think that said, when I think about these two experiences, how do we quantify them? I mean, how do we research that level of benefit and experience? Because in a lot of ways it’s so subjective. So to continue providing evidence based research on how the arts can benefit health and wellbeing, we need continued funding to support research in the arts so that we can actually continue to look at this from a more microscopic lens.

Mindy Peterson: [00:07:03] Well, and I think there are those two different ways of approaching this topic. And in answering this question, I mean, there’s a lot of people who are going to say what your first story sort of exemplified. I didn’t have pain and maybe it was something in the vibrations, but that was the first time I haven’t I’ve had pain reduction. So it’s more of an experiential answer of this is what this is what my experience has been and it works. And so I’m on board and I’m doing it. I think anyone who’s involved in the arts will be fully on board in saying the arts allows us to heal holistically body, soul and spirit. And it’s been said that the arts brings the humanity into the healing process and an environment that can seem very cold and sterile and clinical a lot of times. But also there’s the people who want to see the cold, hard data. And I’m sure that a lot of health care institution administrators want to see that research that you alluded to in terms of that quantifiable research. And I think there is research showing that the use of arts can reduce the duration of hospital stays and lower the amount of meds that patients are on. Are there any other is that is that accurate?

Ferol Carytsas: [00:08:22] That is accurate. There’s a lot of research that exists and there’s a lot of research being done. And I want to circle back to something that you said that I think is so important. And it’s this idea of the arts humanizing the health care experience. I think that’s just such a powerful way to think about it. How the arts can humanize health care experience, especially when we’re in health care settings where someone’s at the bedside and you know, for that moment you are able to shift the climate or the environment in the room into something that feels more humanistic, more I hate to say normal, but more normal to everyday life, as opposed to being confined to a hospital room in a bed and not being able to experience all the things that we do when we’re outside of health care settings.

Mindy Peterson: [00:09:08] Going back to that research component, I know you said there are research studies that do demonstrate these quantifiable benefits. Is there a sort of a favorite site or resource that you tend to find some of these research studies on any particular researcher or organization or website or anything like that, that is sort of a go to place for you.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:09:33] Sure. We have at the University of Florida Center of Arts and Medicine, there is a research database and it’s just it’s a simple web page and there’s a feature where you can click type here to enter your keywords and you can find articles related to the arts and health, arts and public health. And it’s not limited to modality, so it can be music, dance, theatre, visual arts, etc..

Mindy Peterson: [00:09:59] Fantastic. I will definitely include a link in the show notes to that. I know I’ve read other places too, that some other quantifiable research includes improved patient satisfaction scores, enhance staff morale. And my guess is that staff morale is enhanced both because they see their patients thriving and doing well and their the patient’s well-being being enhanced. But I know a lot of these institutions that are utilizing arts for healing patients are also utilizing the arts for stress reduction in staff. And so they’re kind of getting to benefit from the arts directly themselves and not just seeing their patients benefit from that as well. Well, NOAHh recently published the core curriculum for Arts and Health Professionals, and this was part of its advancement of its goals. Carol, you were an editor and contributing author to the curriculum. Tell us about the impetus for creating this curriculum and how it came about.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:11:03] Absolutely. So, wow, since NOAH’s inception, the founding board members recognized the need for professionalization of the discipline of arts and health. So artists may be qualified in their respective fields. However, the knowledge necessary to work in medical settings can be inadequate due to the lack of standardized educational resources available in our field. So NOAHh’s core curriculum for arts and health professionals seeks to bridge these gaps in medical understanding and serve as a source of foundational prerequisite and essential knowledge required for all those working in arts and health. So through the core curriculum, NOAHh aims to provide confidence to health care organizations that the artistic professionals they are seeking to hire are qualified to work in a medical setting. Creating this standardization ensures artists can properly provide care, which is integral to patients health, well-being and safety. So a little bit of background. In 2016, the founding board members identified three foundational documents the Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice and the core curriculum. NOAHh felt that these three documents were the necessary building blocks to professionalization of the field of arts and health. So both the Code of Ethics and Standards for Arts and Health Professionals were released by NOAHh in 2018. The Code of Ethics defines the moral principles that shape the work of arts and health professionals and is intended to guide and influence artists. Practice in health care settings. The standards of practice set standards by which professionals are evaluated.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:12:48] So now going back to the core curriculum, the intention of the core curriculum for arts and health professionals is to serve as the basis for academic coursework, institutional and continuing education training as well as community workshops. The core curriculum content was assembled, reviewed and edited by a geographically and culturally diverse group of writers and specialists from the field of arts and health in the United States. As a matter of fact, a total of over 60 arts and health professionals contributed to this work. The applications of the core curriculum are numerous in academia. The core curriculum will support course development and the creation of certificates and degrees within colleges such as fine arts, nursing, health sciences and medicine. Having these advanced degrees and eventually the arts and health professional competency will provide artists the necessary training and skills to practice safely and effectively. The credibility of academic degrees and certification should positively influence job creation, program development and community partnerships. Strategic planning, evidence based research, evaluation and grant writing are also key elements to building programs and partnerships. So the core curriculum is a huge accomplishment and contribution to the field. It’s the first of its kind. My colleague Ari Albright, and I consider working on this project one of the highlights of our careers, and it has been an honor to contribute to the professionalization of the field in this way.

Mindy Peterson: [00:14:15] Tell me, when did this become available and sort of complete? It sounds like it was part of the founding document in 2016, but it’s been in sort of development.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:14:25] The development of the core curriculum has been in existence since before 2016. But NOAHh started re-upped the development of the core curriculum, and we started that process, having those discussions in 2016 and we released the core curriculum last October. Okay, so October of 2021, and.

Mindy Peterson: [00:14:47] You said that this is available, the curriculums available for use in colleges in continuing ADD for professionals in workshops. Are there other contexts that it’s administered? Is it available for people to just go online and take a course in a self directed way?

Ferol Carytsas: [00:15:06] It will be several years. NOAHh will also be developing additional print publications on online courses to help professionalize the field. So those that are interested in just taking a course here and there, I’m not aware of courses that exist yet, but I know that that is definitely something that NOAHh is working towards. You know, those independent online courses for someone who just wants to stick their toe in and try it out and see what it’s about.

Mindy Peterson: [00:15:31] And for those who do go through the curriculum, is there some kind of a certification that results or licensure or something like that?

Ferol Carytsas: [00:15:40] So NOAHh is using the content from the core curriculum to develop a new professional credential called NOAHh Arts and Health Professional. So this new credential is the foundational competency for the field nationally and internationally, and we can expect to hear more about that in the this year as the year progresses and then in the following year.

Mindy Peterson: [00:16:02] Okay. I was just looking through the table of contents of the curriculum and just to give listeners a little bit of a feel for the content. The table of Contents includes chapters on the history and evolution of the field, creative and expressive arts therapies, arts and Health Program Administration, arts and Health Environments, health care, culture, care delivery and a couple of other chapters as well. So basically it’s saying, okay, you as an arts therapist or whatever the vocation is, you have that knowledge and that training. Here’s how to apply that to the health care setting, and we’re just going to kind of fill in the gaps between what you know for what you do and how to apply it in this setting. Is that sort of a good way of describing it?

Ferol Carytsas: [00:16:57] Yeah, I think that, you know, the core curriculum was written specifically for with the primary audience being artists, recognizing that there are so many nuances to practicing in health care environment that are learned through experience. So the the publication is written for artists. It’s written for health care administrators, arts administrators. It’s written for those that are trying to figure out how do I incorporate research into my work, how do I develop programming? So there are a lot of content for a lot of different audiences.

Mindy Peterson: [00:17:36] Can you give us just an example of one thing that a typical say I’m going to say music therapist as an example, just because this podcast is is about music. But let’s say theoretically there was a music therapist who went through all the training to be a music therapist and then decided they wanted to specifically apply this in a health care institution setting, whether it was a hospital or a let’s just say a hospital if let’s just say that person wanted to go through this core curriculum. Is there a certain example of something within the curriculum that you tend to see people discover and kind of a light bulb goes off like, Oh, I had no idea and I’m so glad I know that before I went into this health care setting.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:18:22] Sure. So I want to make a clarification that creative arts therapies, specifically music therapy, has their own credentialing process. And so a music therapist would not utilize the core curriculum because they have degree programs and credentials of their own that they would they would undergo. So but to answer your question regarding an artist who opens the book, and I think one of the biggest things we see is just like the recognition of a musician who’s going into a health care setting, all the nuances of practice. So I’m an instrumentalist, so this doesn’t apply to me. But I think one of my favorite examples is this idea of thinking about your lyrics when you go into a health care setting. So, you know, singing we singing the song in public of or, you know, in a community setting, killing me softly would be okay. But in a hospital setting, it takes on a completely different meaning. So you might not want to be singing Killing Me Softly in a hospital. You know, you consider this idea of when you’re on a burn unit, you know, ring of fire or hunk of burning love, you know, you have to think about your the lyrics and what that how those that is conveyed and what it means in those contexts. So I think that for those that are new to the field, all those little nuances of, oh, I hadn’t thought about it. I also think that in health care, one especially for musicians as musicians, were so used to being on stage and having people come to us and we get to to select.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:19:59] Our program and our repertoire. But in a health care setting, we strive in arts and health to be so it’s really, really patient centered. So you have to keep in mind this idea that when you walk into someone’s space, you’re entering their space and you want to take into consideration what music they want to listen to. I think as a beginning artist, you know, I was like, Why don’t you want to listen to Bach Suites? I’m a violist, you know, why don’t you want to listen to Bach Suites and that kind of like that’s what I know. I’m a classical musician. That’s what I want to play. And very quickly, you know, shift it. You have to do this pretty significant shift of, oh, it’s not about what I want to play as a musician. It’s about what they want to hear. And I have to say that heavy shifting, that thought process as a musician was huge for me. And I love it so much. I like I just love the work in that way of actually thinking about serving others. It’s just a beautiful example of what music can do and what it means to to think about your own creative practice in a very different way.

Mindy Peterson: [00:21:06] Sure. Well, it’s obvious how beneficial this curriculum can be, both for the artists having that equipping and just the lay of the land in terms of etiquette, things just to be aware of so that they go in knowledgeable about those things. But also, obviously it’s benefiting the patients. They’re getting a more informed care giver in the practitioner. It’s also hugely beneficial for the health care organizations. I mean, they know that somebody who’s gone through this curriculum has foundational knowledge and is equipped to work within that setting in a in a special way that others may not be. How would you describe the climate currently and just the general receptiveness to integrating arts and health by by all the stakeholders medical professionals, patients, caregivers, insurance providers, artists? What kind of growth and expansion are you seeing right now?

Ferol Carytsas: [00:22:04] Sure. I think, you know, I really want to talk about partnership because the field of arts and health is just so collaborative. But I think the work of arts and health professionals is just not at all possible without partners. Collaboration between creative and expressive arts therapists ensures that we maintain the boundaries of our professional practice. We need our university partners to help educate students on the ways that they can become more actively involved as not only artists and administrators, but advocates of the field. The nature of arts and health is so interdisciplinary, as I’ve been saying. So in order to enhance our communication with other disciplines, we need evidence based research that demonstrates the value of the work that we are doing. Our work supports physicians, nurses, seniors, social workers, child life specialists, mental health practitioners and pastoral care services. And that’s just the beginning of the list as it provides meaning, making joy and creativity to patients. We also need these individuals to help us identify appropriate referrals in health care settings. So our conversations with health care administrators are what often gets arts and health programming into a hospital for the very first time. And we need their support in areas such as program development and grant writing. We work with architects and interior designers to help create healing environments. And lastly, we partner with arts organizations and agencies to bring programs into hospitals as well as take the arts out into our communities. So in terms of the current climate and receptiveness to integrating arts and health, it is higher than it has ever been. There’s the recognition of the value of the arts and it’s a really, really exciting time in the field.

Mindy Peterson: [00:23:48] Well, I love what you had to say about collaborating, and I am a huge believer in that and a proponent of not reinventing the wheel or all creating our own silos, but really working together and networking. I think there’s unity and and strength and collaborating in that way. And you do quite a bit with not only what you’re doing there at the University of Florida, but also with NOAH and this core curriculum. And then I read that there’s a partnership that you’re involved in with the Alliance for the Arts in Research, Universities and National Initiative underway to establish a community of arts and health educators. Anything that you want to say about either of those organizations or what’s going on in that collaborative effort?

Ferol Carytsas: [00:24:34] Sure. So the two are use Community of Arts and Health Educators is a really exciting initiative. It brings together arts and health educators from all over the country to talk about the issues that we have in arts and health pedagogy. And we’re in the process of at the beginning stages of writing our researching a state of the field that talks about. The state of arts and health education in the United States. We’re into conversation and dialogues around creating universal learning outcomes for the field, which will eventually potentially lead to an accreditation, an outside accreditor, so that university programs and degree programs would have a national accreditation process that they would have to go through to teach arts and health programs. So there’s a lot of really exciting initiatives that will help, again, with this idea of advancing and professionalizing the field in the coming years.

Mindy Peterson: [00:25:31] Well, I will have lots of links in the show notes, but for our listeners who are driving right now, just tell us verbally where listeners should go to learn more about NOAHh or this core curriculum.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:25:43] Absolutely. So we have a social media presence. So I always start with social media because I think sometimes that’s the easiest way to access information and the quickest. But you can always reach NOAHh through their website, which is the t h e NOAHh in 08. net. And there is a link that will take you to the core curriculum and will provide more information about how you can purchase it.

Mindy Peterson: [00:26:06] Fantastic. Well, Ferrell, I ask all my guests to close out our conversation with a musical ending a coda by sharing a song or story about a moment that music enhanced your life. Tell us about the song that you’re going to be sharing with us in closing here. Sure.

Ferol Carytsas: [00:26:23] So I chose Ashokan Farewell. And this specific recording comes from a CD that I was part of at the CD is entitled Recover that we produced at UF Health, Shands Arts and Medicine. It is a the CD is a collection of the most requested and performed songs at the Bedside of You of Health Shands Hospital. And this specific piece often surprises listeners when they learn that the piece was written in 1982 because it has such a timeless quality, and then it was later used and probably earned its fame in the early nineties for through PBS’s Civil War series. But I have a special relationship. I’ve had a special relationship with this piece over the years. I first heard this piece as a young teenager when a friend performed it at church. And then my first performance of this piece was a few years later with a string orchestra at a summer music camp final performance. Additionally, my dad often requested that I play this piece for him, and it is the piece I chose to perform at his funeral. And now it is a staple in my repertoire as an arts and health professional performing at the bedside and community settings. So like I said, I have this really special relationship with this piece.

Transcribed by Sonix.ai