Art therapy and cancer patients

By Desiree Hahn |

The simple act of drawing or coloring can reap many benefits. Art as a form of expression can help people with expressing feelings and coping with problems.

Art therapy is based on the idea that the creative act can be healing. According to the American Cancer Society, art therapy can be useful by helping people with cancer cope with their emotions. Although uncomfortable feelings may be stirred up, it is considered part of the healing process. Art therapists say art therapy is a way that people can express hidden emotions, provides a sense of freedom, and reduce stress, fear and anxiety. Several case studies show that art therapy benefits patients with both emotional and physical illnesses.

Art therapy helps people manage physical and emotional problems, increase self-awareness and self-esteem, manage behavior and express feelings and unspoken or unconscious concerns through creative activities.

It has been used with people with cancer, disabilities, the chronically ill and others. Art therapy includes producing traditional art, poetry, drama, dance and movement and phototherapy. Another form of art therapy is looking at pieces of art or photographs and describing what was seen to the art therapist.

The American Cancer Society states that art therapy has not undergone rigorous scientific study to determine its therapeutic value for people with cancer but many clinicians have observed and documented significant benefits among people who have participated in art therapy. The American Caner Society estimated there to be about 102,210 new cancer cases in Florida in 2009. Walter James of Flagler Hospital said there were 397 new cancer cases last year at Flagler Hospital.

“I believe that art therapy is very beneficial. It allows the individual to get involved in a project that keeps their minds away from any problems they may be encountering,” said Jackie Hull, a Florida resident, who commented on her personal experience with cancer and art therapy. “It also allows the therapist to get an insight to some underlying currents. The use of different colors can have various meanings. The application of the medium can show signs of anger, peace, etc. Sizes of objects and their relativity can convey different feelings. When I have been ill, I have used my own art therapy. It helped get through some tough times and kept my hands and mind busy.”

Art therapy works because creating art with an art therapist helps the patient express painful thoughts or memories possibly related to the cancer diagnosis or other problem.

This may help the patient cope with the difficulties of the diagnosis, as well as talking with a counselor. The drawing or painting created by the patient can also serve as a tool that helps the art therapist guide the patient through the process of dealing with similar concerns. Art therapy may help people with cancer deal with their emotions but it does not cure cancer.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Be the first to comment on "Art therapy and cancer patients"

Leave a comment