Art Therapy in Pediatric Palliative Care: Promoting the Visual Voice by Identifying Feelings, Emotions and Pain Perception through Drawing

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Lackey, Katja
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
The following qualitative study investigated the experiences of individualized art therapy interventions with pediatric palliative care patients in a medical setting. A body feelings map directive with Pediatric Palliative care patients (6-18 years old) promoted embodiment and connection to feelings, emotions, and pain. It connected the sensation within the boundary of the body map. The visual expression of emotions and feelings opened the PPC patient's Perceptual and Affective components as the chaos of those experiences was visually organized and recalled by the participant. PPC children expressed their feelings through drawing was studied to understand and observe the PPC client's verbal connection to their visual response. The resulting themes from the study were emotional self-awareness, expression of intense feelings, and identity. All participants indicated anger in the body map but drew about fear as an experience. The agency of the directive promotes autonomy and control for the patient. Visual experiences of symptoms offered the PPC treatment team new insights. The interviews, artwork, a body feelings map, and observations resulted in the use of art therapy to aid in learning and psychosocial support to the pediatric palliative care patient within the medical setting and expression of emotions and experiences.