Many friends and family over the past few years have been confronted with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, so I decided to go through the American Art Therapy Association’s outcomes-based research bibliography for information about art therapy’s efficacy for cancer patients. The articles I found are listed in the attached pdf file for those of you who are also interested. A Google search of “cancer and art therapy” will also bring up many, many examples of art therapy in cancer treatment.
Research around the world is growing in support of art therapy’s effectiveness with reducing symptoms of pain, anxiety, trauma and more. The Canadian Art Therapy Association (CATA) publishes a research journal as does the American Art Therapy Association (AATA). Art therapy masters and masters-level programs, which are required to practice as an art therapist, include research classes as well as a thesis or project. Qualitative and quantitative results are available for many populations; here are links for just a few examples: children, cancer patients, adults, and the AATA has a 54-page outcomes bibliography. A Google search will bring up books and research about art therapy including general resources and for specific populations or concerns. If an evidence-based approach is important to you and you’re considering art therapy, ask the art therapist: How they support client values and expectations; about their expertise; and how they apply research findings and resources. Not unlike other psychotherapies, art therapists can work with you to develop a treatment plan with measurable goals and objectives and within a time frame based on your expectations.