A diagnosis of cancer can affect the emotional, spiritual, psychological and social
self, as well as the physical self, thus affecting the quality of life both during and after cancer
treatment according to recent literature. Emotions related to the diagnosis of cancer, the
treatment and the consequences of treatment may have a negative impact on self concept and
identity integration and may be difficult to express through traditional support group therapy.
For women with gynecologic cancer these emotions may include feelings about mortality,
fear, anxiety, grief, loss, sexuality issues, body image issues and side effects of treatment.
Art therapy within the confines of a supportive group can be an excellent way to explore and
learn to cope with the many changes brought on by the diagnosis, treatment and
consequences of gynecologic cancer. This research study conducted through a mid-western
university research facility utilized a five-week group art therapy based intervention,
Drawing on the Inner Self, which was developed by the investigator/author for this study
with the assistance of the co-facilitator of the study, who was also the program supervisor.
The descriptive, action based research study was conducted with four women with a
diagnosis of gynecologic cancer. It utilized specific art therapy modalities and group process
to promote expression of emotions related to the diagnosis, treatment and experience of
cancer by fostering adjustment and insight. Common themes and symbolism were found
within the artwork and group discussion and facilitated group camaraderie and strength. The
results of this study demonstrate that guided group art therapy with specific mind-body
interventions and art therapy exercises are an effective modality to express, understand and
cope with difficult feelings which impact self-concept and identity integration cancer, its
treatment and the consequences of treatment.