The Arts and Healing – Part 1 of 6

Guest Blogger: Nicole Robinson

This blog series will examine the many roles the arts have in healing. Today we will discover the positive impact the Northeast Ohio Healing Arts Alliance has on our community.

People working together on artwork.

The Northeast Ohio Healing Arts Alliance (NEOHAA) brings together organizations and individuals who have an interest in promoting awareness of and integrating the arts and expressive therapies into mental health treatment. Founded on April 17, 2013 through a generous grant from Peg’s Foundation to the Expressive Therapy Center at Akron Children’s Hospital, the alliance began to bring together individuals and organizations interested in expressive therapy and behavioral health fields to network. The early meetings allowed the community to establish NEOHAA’s mission and vision, as well as delegate a selected number of members to form a steering committee consisting of artists, music and art therapists, counselors, physicians, and additional community members. NEOHAA seeks to ensure that expressive therapies are available to every individual with mental health needs who might derive benefit. Through collaboration, education, awareness, and advocacy, members work to erase barriers to access for consumers and practitioners. The steering committee of NEOHAA meets at least 10 times a year and consists of several subcommittees. Members serving on the steering committee help to steer NEOHAA’s yearly activities and events.  

Woman lecturing classroom.

NEOHAA collaborates with area organizations to bring awareness to the ways the arts are being used for healing purposes and made available to the community. Educational opportunities on the expressive therapies are offered annually for mental health therapists, social workers, and psychologists. Past educational opportunities have included art and music therapy, sand tray, creative writing, and more.

People working on artwork.

NEOHAA also provides an annual networking event to bring together artists, mental health practitioners, organizations, and others interested in the intersection of the arts and mental health. Throughout the year, NEOHAA promotes local art activities and initiatives throughout Northeast Ohio to help raise awareness of the expressive therapies and arts programming in our community. Additionally, members of NEOHAA engage in advocacy by supporting and bringing awareness to statewide initiatives that promote the expressive therapies and remove the barriers that prohibit consumers from engaging in the healing arts.  

One current initiative includes the Ohio State Bill 238, which seeks to license and regulate art and music therapists. The passing of this bill will make it easier for consumers to seek safe care through music and art therapy. It assures title protection so that when a person states they are providing art or music therapy it will be required that the person has received proper training and has the necessary credentials. To read more about Ohio State Bill 238 visit the Buckeye Art Therapy Association’s website (listed below). 

Additional information about music and art therapies in Ohio can be found through Association of Ohio Music Therapists and the Buckeye Art Therapy Association.    

Nicole Robinson, M.F.A is the Narrative Medicine Coordinator for the Emily Cooper Welty Expressive Therapy Center and Haslinger Pediatric Palliative Care Center at Akron Children’s Hospital where she leads workshops for children, their families, and staff. She served as Chair for the Northeast Ohio Healing Arts Alliance from 2017 to 2019.