Greater Than the Highs and Lows: Increasing Resiliency Through Visual Narrative

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Wooten, Kim
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This mixed methods study investigated the relationship between resiliency and the experience of living with a chronic illness, specifically Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). A sample of 44 adult T1D Facebook volunteers were recruited as participants, who participated via an online survey and optional in-depth interview. Interview and survey data were coded to search for themes related to the construct of resiliency. In addition, this researcher also utilized heuristic inquiry to visually explore different stages of the T1D illness narrative within a research journal to gather and explore personal resiliency themes. To determine the effects of artmaking on resiliency, the Protective Factors for Resilience Scale and Initiative 10: Images of Pain and Healing was completed before and after the visual narrative process. The results of the survey and the heuristic process showed that resilience was an important aspect of the T1D experience. More specifically, an overarching theme of thriving instead of surviving was found along with three common themes of resiliency, with a positive and negative subtheme for each: (a) acceptance and need for more control (subtheme of self-efficacy and shame), (b) technology and depression (subthemes of coping strategies and loneliness), and (c) acceptance and disease as a label (subthemes of positive affect and stigma). This study sought to advance the field of art therapy by showing how exploring one’s chronic illness narrative through art therapy methods can foster and increase one’s resiliency.