Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Expressive Therapies


Annette Whitehead-Pleaux


Pediatric oncology patients and survivors endure multiple obstacles related to physical health and recovery during and after their treatment time. In addition, mental health complications related to adjustment, anxiety, depression, and stress can complicate the overall quality of life and functioning of individuals who have endured this diagnosis and treatment. As an intervention, art therapy can provide relief from physical symptom management, relieve mental health symptoms and stressors, and improve overall quality of life. Art therapy directives and professional work can assist in teaching appropriate coping skills, enhance emotional intelligence, improve communication, restore a sense of control, and improve overall quality of life of patients and survivors. This thesis will explore the challenges experienced by this population and investigate current art therapy practices and directives utilized to overcome those challenges. For the purposes of this review, a search was conducted through various databases using the terms: art therapy, creative arts, pediatric cancer, oncology, children, mental health, depression, anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress, and survivors, in multiple combinations. Journals within the fields of psychology, medicine, nursing, social work, and art therapy identified publications that fit the topics of this review. Research has shown that art therapy can be utilized to improve the well-being and quality of life of pediatric oncology patients and survivors. Research exploring art therapy with pediatric oncology populations suggests outcomes such as: an emergence of a new creative coping mechanism through art; an enhanced sense of control over materials and processes; and increased communication.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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