Mindfulness Based Art Therapy in Comprehensive Cancer Treatment

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Downey, Kathryn
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
The following study addresses the advantages of assimilating mindfulness-based art therapy into a comprehensive treatment plan for survivors of cancer. Mindfulness techniques were combined with art directives, used among survivors of cancer in an art studio setting. These sessions took place in a cancer support group in Central Indiana. Mindfulness techniques encourage one to focus on the present moment. This perspective, when connected with art making and creative expression, resulted in a relief of subjective pain intensity, and mood changes relating to a heightened awareness of self and their experience in the art studio. The findings relayed a sufficient decrease in cancer-related pain and discomfort, emphasizing the need to incorporate mindfulness-based art therapy into comprehensive cancer treatment. Making use of the Memorial Pain Assessment Card, a pre- and post-test was administered every session to collect data concerning group and individual participant changes. Results from the analysis showed a clear decrease of overall chronic pain, which participants attribute to stem from lasting cancer related issues. A noted increase of positive mood was also expressed, including but not limited to, happiness, relaxation, or rejuvenation. The feedback from data analysis showed an overall decrease in pain and increase in positive mood, lending to the benefit of an adjacent art therapy treatment within cancer care. Findings also mirror themes from the literature, conclusively supporting the concept of mindfulness-based art therapy as part of comprehensive cancer treatment for survivors of cancer.