People with ‘invisible’ diseases (e.g., infertility, endometriosis, Cystic Fibrosis, ME, depression) may find it especially difficult to explain their experiences to others. A new website, www.drawingout.org, uses simple metaphor-based drawing exercises to help people express and share their thoughts and feelings about their condition. The online galleries showcase the artwork produced by patients, as well as providing links to information and support through their partner charities.
The website is the result of collaboration between two academics at Cardiff University: Dr Sofia Gameiro is a psychologist who focuses on understanding and improving the healthcare experiences of infertile patients. Dr Lisa El Refaie’s work has shown that visual metaphor can express people’s illness experiences more creatively and often more accurately than just verbal descriptions. They originally developed DrawingOut as a group workshop tool to help people with invisible diseases overcome language and cultural barriers, and to facilitate the expression of sometimes very emotional, taboo views through drawing.
The website, which was funded from an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account, makes the tool available to individuals who may be unable or unwilling to attend a workshop. It also offers detailed guidance for anyone who would like to run their own drawing workshops.
Dr Lisa El Refaie’s will be speaking at the forthcoming Graphic Medicine conference in Brighton 11-13 July.
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