Art Rx, a program uniting art and healing, held its first workshop at the Keck School of Medicine of USC recently. Led by Suraiya Simi Rahman, MD, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics, the Oct. 12 workshop explored how meditative journaling can enhance the physician/patient relationship.

These workshops are part of a broader program and partnership between the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and the Keck School that aims to educate, strategize and research innovative ways in which health care professionals can use the arts to relieve pain and bring comfort to those suffering from illness and trauma.

While volunteering with various organizations and hospitals that brought filmmaking to vulnerable populations, USC School of Cinematic-Arts alumna and film producer, Sydney Siegel, witnessed the powerful therapeutic effect of storytelling on individuals impacted by illness and trauma. These experiences inspired her to return to USC and get her Master of Social Work, where she teamed up with her classmates Emily Frumkin, Georgia Weston and Yessenia Gonzalez, to bring Art Rx to life. The Art Rx team members shared experience working with medically fragile populations to transcend physical and emotional pain through artistic means and recognized a need for more creativity in health care, Siegel said.

Sunita Puri, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine and medical director for palliative care at Keck Medical Center of USC; Pamela Schaff, MD, associate professor of clinical family medicine (educational scholar) and director of the Keck School’s Humanities, Ethics/Economics, Art, and Law (HEAL) Program; and Rosamaria Alamo, MSW, clinical associate professor, field education at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, are Art Rx’s main faculty partners at USC.

In addition to workshops, Art Rx will host an educational symposium on April 7, 2018. The forum will be held in dedication to actor Robin Williams and his battle with Lewy Body Dementia, as well as the creativity, compassion and laughter that he delivered to the world, organizers said. Art Rx has partnered with Robin Williams’ widow and fine artist, Susan Schneider Williams, to more deeply understand the role that creativity plays in physical pain, mental health, grief, loss and suffering.

The event will include performances from artists who have suffered from various illnesses, as well as a roundtable discussion of medical experts to discuss the effects of creativity on physical and mental pain.

To register for the forum, future workshops and learn more about the group’s mission, go to