Art therapy

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental and emotional health. Art expression under the direction of a trained therapist can help relieve stress and tension, reduce pain, and improve one’s mood and sense of well-being.

Anyone – adult or child, with or without art experience – can benefit from art therapy.

For more information about art therapy, see the American Art Therapy Association website at

What can I expect during an art therapy session?

Art therapy sessions include both art-making and conversation with the therapist. The individual chooses from art materials such as paints, chalk, markers and clay to make whatever they wish. The art therapist may suggest a starting point and will offer technical help as needed. While each session is unique, most people find art therapy relaxing and fun.

Once the individual completes their art piece, they have the opportunity to talk with the therapist about the process and whatever is on their mind. Individuals may be focused on concerns about having cancer or being in the hospital, relationships, spiritual issues, body image or other areas of life. On the other hand, an individual may simply focus on relaxing and enjoying the creative process, which typically results in reduced stress, pain and anxiety.

Is art therapy evidence-based?

There is research to support the use of art therapy under the guidance of a trained therapist for people with cancer. Art therapy has been shown to reduce pain, depression, fatigue and other distressing symptoms of both the illness and its treatment. It has also been found to strengthen positive feelings, raise overall quality of life, improve body image, and increase perceptions of general physical and mental health.

For more information about art therapy, visit the American Art Therapy Associati at

How do I receive art therapy at UK HealthCare?

UK HealthCare offers art therapy to Markey Cancer Center  patients.

  • Inpatients at Markey may request that their doctor, nurse or social worker refer them to art therapy, and they will be seen in their hospital room. 
  • Individuals receiving outpatient treatment may participate during chemotherapy infusions or may request that their doctor, nurse or social worker refer them for art therapy sessions.

Radiation mask workshops

Radiation masks worn during treatment for head and neck cancer can become powerful symbols of healing when they are transformed into works of art. Markey Cancer Center is now offering patients the opportunity to work with an art therapist to turn their radiation masks into sculptures and to participate in an optional group exhibition.

In a free, monthly workshop, participants are assisted in coming up with ideas and completing a unique sculpture. Materials are provided, and no art experience is necessary. Learn more about the mask workshops »

Art therapy samplers

Monthly art therapy samplers are a fun way to take an art break and experience the benefits of art therapy during your visit to the Markey Cancer Center. Watch for a table in the first-floor lobby of the Whitney-Hendrickson Building. It only takes a few minutes to participate, and all are invited. 

Integrative medicine at UK Markey Cancer Center

The doctors and medical practitioners at the UK Markey Cancer Center use a team-based approach to provide patients with the most effective care possible from start to finish. Markey is proud to offer its patients the healing and restorative benefits of art therapy free of charge thanks to a cornerstone grant from the Lexington Cancer Foundation. Art therapy provides a simple and effective approach to healing and is a prime example of the many ways that Markey is working to give patients the most well-rounded and integrative approach to cancer treatment available today.

More information on art therapy at Markey Cancer Center »

Christian Jewel
Administrative Services Assistant for Art Therapy

Fran Belvin, MA, LPAT
Licensed Art Therapist

Markey Cancer Center art therapist

Fran Belvin is a board-certified and licensed art therapist in practice since 1997. She provided art therapy to patients and bereaved family members at Hospice of the Bluegrass for five years, and in private practice has worked with individuals on issues such as grief, trauma, divorce and substance abuse. Art therapy teaching experience includes graduate courses at the University of Kentucky and professional training for behavioral health providers at the Kentucky Division of Behavioral Health’s Kentucky School of Alcohol and Other Drug Studies, the Kentucky Adolescent Substance Abuse Consortium, Ridge Behavioral Health System, Eastern State Hospital, Harlan Regional Health Care Center and regional Community Mental Health Centers.

She served as chair on the Kentucky Board of Licensure for Professional Art Therapists from 2008 to 2012. Belvin currently divides her time at UK HealthCare between the Markey Cancer Center and Eastern State Hospital.

Fran Belvin, M.A., L.P.A.T.
Combs Building
800 Rose Street
Lexington KY 40536-0093

Page last updated: 8/11/2015 5:01:18 PM