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VISUAL ART AND ARTS THERAPY FOR HEALING Abstract Studies have revealed positive evidence of the use of art therapy programs and visual artworks to facilitate the healing process of patients and staff in healthcare facilities. These researchers have highlighted a strong link between the content of the images and their impact on the reactions of patients to pain, stress, and anxiety. In this regard, hospitals are choosing artworks based on the positive evidence recorded. As a result of the contribution art has, in the provision of a better healing environment for patients, staffs and service users, this article is a literature review that highlights the results of various researches on cancer patients and a pilot study, which explores the effective use of visual arts and art therapy programs in healthcare facilities. The objective is to create a foundation for further investigations into the subject of healing with visual art and other art therapy programs in health care. Furthermore, a pilot study was conducted at the Near East hospital to evaluate the visual arts used within the hospital interior. INTRODUCTION Research has shown that there has been a rapid awareness and global increase in the issue of healing environment in recent years (Anantha, 2008). Generally, the whole idea of the healing is centered on the fact that the quality of the hospital environment can make a great difference in the recovery of patients (Altimier, 2004). Ulrich advocated that a patient in a hospital ward with a view of trees and landscape will have a quick recovery compared to one facing a view of a plain wall (Ulrich, 1984). Similarly, artists and professionals in the healthcare sector have the perception that art may have positive benefits in the healing process and healthcare in general. There has been evidence of the increasing display of artworks, with themes of natural images, which have positive effects on health outcomes. These effects ranges from decreased anxiety in patients, increased tolerance to pain and reduced periods of stay in hospitals (Staricoff & Loppert, 2003). Likewise, Florence Nightingale in 1859, affirmed the relevance of art in hospitals, which raised issues that are highly useful today. Moreover, she believes that beautiful objects of various forms and colours that are not often appreciated, sometimes have as much physical effect, as regular forms and colours have on us (Nightingale, 1859). Studies conducted in recent years, supported the notion that paintings and other forms of visual art can facilitates patients healing process. Furthermore, the result of these researches reveals that there is an association between images in a piece of art work and the positive impacts they have on patient’s response to traumatic pain, anxiety and stress (Landro, 2014; Nanda et al. 2012; Ulrich, 1999). As such, the use of artworks in hospitals has now been highly prioritized so as not to be seen as ordinary decorations for boring corridors and rooms. The use of art interventions as a positive distraction is significantly recognized for the rehabilitation of hospital occupants. On the other hand, positive distraction has been defined as an environmental factor that promotes positive energy or feelings of individuals without exposing them to any form of stress, as such, taking the person's mind off his or her worries (Ulrich et al., 1991). To further buttress this fact, a study has shown that patients with breast cancer, testified adverse reduction in anxiety during chemotherapy sessions when exposed to a view of a virtual realistic display of underwater sights (Hickman et al., 1992). History of Art in Healthcare Visual art as a western tradition started in ancient Greece, where architecturally-pleasing halls known as Asklepiea encouraged a sense of calmness and health for patients. The spaces were designed in a way that permits patients to participate in the treatment programs often drawn in their dreams by the god Asklepios. This treatment with dreams later became archaic with the development of modern medicine and the establishment of monolithic faiths in Europe. (Cork, 2012). However, the aesthetically pleasing traditional Athenian hospitals in the fifth century, which was forgotten for a long period was revived in the fourteenth century in Siena (Baron, 1996). Founded in the cathedral in Siena, the Spadale DI Santa Maria Della Scala was a space used to accommodate traveling pilgrims to the various shrines in the city. By 1100, it had expanded from its original use and had started serving the population of Siena as a hospital for the treatment of illnesses. A frescoes, painted by Simone Martini in the fourteenth century, which depicted a Marriage of the Virgin and the Return of the Virgin to the house of her parents, were commissioned by city officials to be displayed in the hospital.