The purpose of this research proposal is to examine how art therapy is being used
to improve the lives of people with cancer. There have been many articles by art
therapists and other professionals discussing this subject but none that provided an
overview and analysis of the types of art therapy available for cancer patients and the
ways it has been found helpful. The methods which will be employed to answer the
research question are a literature review and personal communication with art therapists
involved in providing art therapy for cancer patients.
The conceptual framework this researcher utilized was categorizing these art
therapy interventions into four basic approaches. These include: physically based
interventions, emotionally based interventions, spiritually based interventions, and art
therapy interventions aimed at addressing social issues. While categorizing art therapy
interventions into four separate types seems artificial, it was found helpful in examining
the different areas in which art therapy may activate change.
In conclusion, the art therapy interventions most often used with cancer patients
were emotionally based and spiritually based both in the literature review and in the
personal communications. While these may be the most common interventions, art
therapy has the potential to effect the individual’s physical and social well being
regardless of the primary goal the therapist had in mind. Physically and socially based
approaches are less commonly employed.