Art Therapy in Oncology and Palliative Care – Overview of Empirical Results and a Case Vignette

Harald Gruber


Research background. In the spectrum of psychotherapeutic interventions, artistic therapies such as painting, clay modelling, music, dance therapy, as well as poetry and bibliotherapy have become an essential part of psychosocial treatment in a wide variety of medical and therapeutic indications. Artistic therapies enable patients to express stressful emotions in a protected environment, to regulate their own experiences, to learn about resources and to better process the psychologically restrictive consequences of the illness. Empirical evidence of efficacy is still lacking in many fields of Arts Therapies. However, recent, partially controlled randomized studies on art therapy in oncology show a significant reduction in anxiety and depression, a lesser degree of experiencing stress, improved perception of health, and improved disease management. A case Vignette shows how sustainable artistic experiences can have a therapeutic effect and how significant they can become for the individual client. Conclusion. Art therapy, especially in the field of oncology and palliative care, offers special opportunities for therapeutic accompaniment, through which central objectives can be met in the context of the overall treatment. It requires further practical and scientific development work as well as good public relations in order to draw attention to the potential of art therapy and to further validate and establish it as a fixed therapeutic component in oncology and palliative medicine, both inpatient and outpatient. Keywords: art therapy, oncology, palliative care, case report.

Keywords: art therapy, oncology, palliative care, case report.

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