What is it?
A way to express feelings using visual art. Discussing the work you create with a trained art therapist can help you understand your emotions and concerns.
Why use it
The process of creating art can be a way to explore feelings and issues that are hard to put into words. Art therapy can also help with solving problems, improving mood and reducing stress.
What to expect
With the support of an art therapist, you can create any type of art: drawing, painting, collage, sculpture or digital work. Some cancer centres run art therapy programs.
Art therapy may be done individually or in a group. You don’t need to be good at art to benefit or participate – the emphasis is on the process of producing artwork, not on the result.
What is the evidence?
There is some evidence that art therapy helps manage symptoms of fatigue and anxiety, and improves quality of life. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it improves coping skills and emotional wellbeing.
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Dr David Joske, Clinical Haematologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and PathWest, Chairman and Founder Solaris Cancer Care Foundation, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The University of Western Australia, WA; Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA); Dr Robert Blum, Clinical Director, Cancer Services, Bendigo Health, NSW; Sally Brooks, Senior Pharmacist, Medicines Information, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Suzanne Grant, Senior Research Fellow, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, and Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, NSW; Prof Danforn Lim, Adjunct Professor and Advisory Board Member, NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University, and Adjunct Professor, UTS, NSW; Christina Line, Statewide Services Senior Coordinator, Cancer Council WA; Jen McKenzie, Physiotherapist (Lymphoedema) and ESSA Accredited Exercise Physiologist, The McKenzie Clinic, QLD; Simone Noelker, Wellness Centre and Pastoral Care Manager, Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Nirzari Pandit, General Practitioner, RACGP Specific Interests Integrative Medicine Group, NSW; Georgie Pearson, Consumer; Cris Pirone, Counsellor, Cancer Council SA; Dr Elysia Thornton-Benko, Specialist General Practitioner, and UNSW Research Fellow, NSW; Kirsty Trebilcock, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA.
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