Art therapy is the creative use of art materials for self-expression and reflection. At the core of art therapy is the belief that the creative process involved in the making of art is healing and life enhancing. The artwork becomes the visual representation of a patient, caregiver, or family member's experiences.
When words are not enough, art therapy allows patients and caregivers the opportunity to creatively deal with the impact of a cancer diagnosis. Patients, caregivers, and family members may choose to cultivate an ongoing project with a particular final product in mind, or may opt to use the process of working with the materials to communicate their emotional and psychological experiences.
Addressing issues related to illness, treatment, and emotional well-being, art therapy techniques can be tailored to meet the needs of patients during treatment or during an individually scheduled session. Through art therapy, patients can be supported in addressing issues that may include:
- Changes in body image due to treatment
- The management of pain and other physical symptoms
- The emotional release of anxiety
- The loss of a sense of well-being
- Coming to terms with feelings of loss and isolation
- The ability to cope with illness
Fundamentally, engaging in artistic expression encourages an ongoing awareness of personal wellness, while providing emotional and psychological support for the patient and family. Additionally, prior experience with art materials or artistic technique is not necessary.
Any patient, regardless of age or diagnosis can benefit from the positive aspects of artistic expression. Sessions are tailored to the individual needs of the patient, caregiver, or family member, and typically range in duration from 30 to 60 minutes.
Art therapy is available at the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital.