The Effects of Medical Art Therapy through Self-Exploration with Adult Cancer Patients: Reducing Distress

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Reyes, Stephanie
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This study explored the use of Medical Art Therapy (MAT) through a Magazine Collage Card (MCC) art therapy intervention. Throughout local urban medical centers, three adult cancer patients participated in the art therapy intervention that explored distress levels pre- and post- art therapy services. Participants were adult cancer patients, twenty-six to eighty-years-old, who were currently receiving cancer treatments through an urban outpatient setting. Participants were encouraged to reflect on themes, such as motivation, mindfulness, gratitude, and personal reflection. Participants responded to their illness with a deep search for wholeness and a desire to reexamine their life stories, and, re-authoring themselves. Through the MCC art therapy intervention, meaning-making offered a way to summarize their life experiences, to reclaim personal power, to create a lasting visual legacy and to communicate through art, “I am” and “I exist”. All three participants acknowledged that they discovered a self-care skill through the MCC. Results showed that all participants in the study found art therapy to be a beneficial method and treatment tool towards reducing distress levels, increasing positivity, and practicing self-reflection through art-making. Participants reported an experience that provided hope and relief from cancer treatment post- art therapy intervention.