University of South Florida St. Petersburg



The healing power of the arts

By Sarah Sell, University Communications and Marketing 

A healing arts class on the USF St. Petersburg campus is helping students understand the therapeutic methods of interacting with art for people with memory loss.

The collaboration between USF's Judy Genshaft Honors College and the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art in St. Petersburg allows students to see firsthand how these interactions can benefit individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

As part of the class, the James Museum invited people in assisted living facilities from the Tampa Bay area to take art tours, which were hosted by students from USF. Students learned how particular methods of engaging with art can help participants access and express memories, improve communication skills, externalize emotions, relieve stress and promote positive feelings.

In addition to getting practical experience for their future careers, the James Museum hopes that students will return to serve as volunteer docents and help continue the Art in Mind program that the museum is starting, thanks to the partnership with USF.

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