Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy


Expressive Therapies


This document reviews the artworks created in the form of visual narratives of cancer survivors. The work sought to explore the subjective experience of cancer and explore potential functions of art therapy in oncology care. Previous research found stages of the cancer trajectory and psychosocial benefits of art therapy. Fifteen adult cancer survivors created visual narratives and participated in this qualitative inquiry. The research was action-based and used arts based and qualitative methodologies. Eight themes emerged and reflected stages of the cancer experience and corresponding functions of art therapy participation. The themes included: diagnosis and the onset of the cancer journey; instilling hope through imagery and recognizing strength in self-expression; ongoing treatment and support; relaxation and re-focus by means of creation, repetition and containment; transition to life after cancer; defining ongoing survivorship and re-establishing resilience; post-cancer growth; and refining a creative identity and re-imagining the self. The work will add to competencies of art therapists working in oncology care and add literature supporting the addition of art therapy to oncology treatment centers.



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