Girija Kaimal, EdD

Associate Professor, Creative Arts Therapies Department

Kaimal’s research focuses on understanding the way that creative self-expression affects human emotions and other brain processes. Some of that work has involved examining how activities such as coloring, drawing or doodling affect stress hormone levels or activation of the brain’s reward pathways. Particularly, her work often focuses on understanding the ways that people’s own experiences and stories, especially related to the art they create, affects their lives and health. She also focuses on what effects self-expression can have on underrepresented or vulnerable populations.

She has undertaken multi-year studies in art therapy programs among armed service members at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Kaimal is also interested in the role creativity plays in empowerment and learning and has looked into arts-based psychosocial support for vulnerable children and adults in areas of the world particularly effected by trauma. 

Related from the Drexel News Blog

In The News

Spring Clean Your Attitude
Research on the mental health benefits of art-making, led by Girija Kaimal, EdD, an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was mentioned in an April 9 Epoch Times article about spring cleaning tips for mental health, including cultivating creativity with art-making.
Are There More Doors or Wheels in Philly? An Investigation.
Girija Kaimal, EdD, an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was quoted in a March 17 Philadelphia Inquirer article about the recently viral online debate of whether more doors or wheels exist in the world.
Creativity & Happiness: Find Your Creative Capacity in Everyday Life With Girija Kaimal
Girija Kaimal, EdD, an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was quoted in a Feb. 8 episode of & Happiness (UK) podcast about engaging and practicing creativity daily, and the mental health benefits of creative expression.
22 Tips for 2022: Get Creative, Even if You Aren’t Feeling Inspired
Girija Kaimal, EdD, an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was quoted in a Jan. 18 episode of NPR "Life Kit" about the mental and physical benefits of creating art and tips for how to start a creative habit.
11 Morning Routines To Save Your Day
Girija Kaimal, EdD, an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was quoted in a July 16 Entrepreneur article about morning activities to add to a routine to benefit the rest of the day, including engaging in creative activities like art.
Stress Busters for Caregivers
Research about the mental health benefits of art-making, led by Girija Kaimal, EdD, an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was mentioned in a June 7 Guideposts article about activities caregivers can use to reduce stress and burnout.
Art Is Good for Your Kids—and Here’s the Science Why
Girija Kaimal, EdD, an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was quoted in Sept. 24 National Geographic and Sept. 23 HealthOMind (India) stories about the mental health benefits of art making. Kaimal was also quoted in a Sept. 23 story in The Pigeon (Canada) about the Indigenous roots of art therapy.
Anger and Frustration Can Jump-Start Creativity. Use These 3 Tricks to Channel It Productively
A 2016 study about art-making activating the brain’s reward pathway led by Girjia Kaimal, EdD, an associate professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, was mentioned in a July 19 Fast Company article about methods to channel anger and frustration to jumpstart creativity.

Related Articles

Doodle of a mountain with snowflakes and squiggles What the Brain Shows: The Benefits of Virtual Reality in Creative Arts Therapies
In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers from Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions and School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, examined the differences in prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation between two distinct drawing tasks in VR, including with the introduction of a calming fragrance stimulus.
Virtual reality 3D drawing of a flower Is Virtual Reality the Next Big Thing in Art Therapy?
Researchers from Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions in the Creative Arts Therapies Department conducted a study to see if creative arts therapies is the next frontier for virtual reality in health care.
Person coloring in a coloring book The Art of Cancer Caregiving: How Art Therapies Can Benefit Those Caring for Cancer Patients
A study, led by researchers from Drexel University’s Creative Art Therapies department in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, as well as researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, showed coloring and open-studio art therapy benefits stressed caregivers of cancer patients.
woman wearing virtual reality gear Drexel University and Johns Hopkins University Announce Unique Study of Therapeutics Arts Using Virtual Reality
A shared research interest in the applications of creative expression and creative arts therapies at Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) and Johns Hopkins University's International Arts + Mind (IAM) Lab has shaped a new collaboration between the two universities. Built on the collective values of applied and translational research linking the creative arts and brain sciences, researchers from CNHP and IAM Lab will work together on a new creative arts therapies project that utilizes virtual reality.
One mask depicting half of a normal face and another looking like the Hulk, and another with no mouth and faded red and white stripes Study Links Content of Service Members' Art to Their Trauma Levels
A new study conducted at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence found that military service members recovering from PTSD who still identified as a member of a unit have lower levels of psychological injuries.
Colored pencils and a half-colored-in image. Drexel Study: Coloring Books Make You Feel Better, But Real Art Therapy Much More Potent
Many adult coloring books claim to be art therapy and can reduce negative feelings, but art therapists are significantly more impactful, a Drexel study shows.
A sketch of a brain with splatters of different colors of paint. Making Art Activates Brain’s Reward Pathway – Drexel Study
Coloring, doodling and drawing all showed significant bloodflow in the section of the brain related to feeling rewarded, a new study by a Drexel University art therapist found.
a mixture of painted colors Drexel Selected to Be Site in NEA’s First-Ever Funding of Arts Labs
For the first time, the National Endowment for the Arts is funding research labs, and Drexel’s Department of Arts Therapies was chosen to lead one focusing on arts and health.