Art therapy is a creative outlet to help people cope with cancer, and any other physical or emotional trauma, by expressing emotions related to fear, stress and anxiety. It provides a way for people to come to terms with emotional conflicts, increase self-awareness, and express unspoken, and often unconscious, concerns about their illness and their lives. Many times, it is difficult for people facing or recovering from a traumatic event, especially an illness, to express themselves with words. Many clinicians have found that art is a wonderful outlet for such expression.
There are many artistic avenues used in art therapy; some of the more commonly used art forms include painting, drawing, pottery, photography, weaving, jewelry design, flower arranging and many more. We recommend you work with a registered, board-certified art therapist with an ATR-BC credential to determine which form of art therapy is best for you.
How does art therapy help with cancer?
Studies have shown that art therapy has a direct effect on reducing stress and anxiety in cancer patients. There are some studies that reveal a reduction in pain and an increased quality of life for patients and survivors. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and colleagues analyzed more than 2 dozen studies of creative arts therapies to see the effect of these therapies on cancer patients. In addition to art therapy, the creative arts therapies also include music therapy, writing therapy and dance therapy. They reviewed 27 randomized clinical trials that included 1,576 cancer patients and examined the effects of creative arts therapies on their psychological symptoms and quality of life. They found that creative arts therapies significantly reduced anxiety, depression, and pain while they improved the quality of life in cancer patients.The findings were published early online May 13, 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine.