Cancer and Art Therapy

Posted on: February 22, 2016

Did you know that when therapists meet with individuals with cancer, they frequently suggest participating in Creative Arts Therapy? Cancer and art therapy ranges from writing, 3D arts, drama, painting, drawing and dance. According to therapists, these creative outlets can help to reduce anxiety, stress and depression by creating an outlet to express their emotions.

In May 2013 the researchers from the National Institutes of Health and Colleagues published a study in JAMA Internal Medicine. They reviewed clinical trials that included over 1,500 cancer patients for the effects of art therapy. The researchers found that quality of life increased during therapy by reducing depression, anxiety and even pain. It was noted that the biggest effect was observed when creative art therapy was done while patients were in the hospital.

What are some ways that you can use art as an outlet during cancer treatment? Start by bringing a notebook or art journal to chemotherapy treatments to help pass time during infusion. Need inspiration? Try using one of the prompts below, or visit our Pinterest Board for more ideas:

  • Create a list of things you are grateful for
  • Use an old book page to draw over
  • Trace your hand and create a collage inside
  • Make a self portrait
  • Color in a ‘Grown up’ coloring book
  • Create a mind map
Cancer and Art Therapy

Programs such as Cancer Support Community are committed to improving cancer patient’s quality of life, including through creative arts therapy.  Keep the creativity flowing by joining a group at the Cancer Support Community in Walnut Creek. On their monthly calendar you can find free group classes for writing, drumming, dancing, knitting and more.

Would you like to participate in a research study? Maya Zebley a board certified music therapist who is currently a graduate student at University of the Pacific attending the music therapy department, is looking to interview cancer survivors. The 90 minute interview is open to cancer survivors who are in remission. During the interview Maya will ask questions in regards to the music the participants listened to while in the treatment process; how the sound, lyrics, and meanings arise from the music assisted them with coping with cancer.  

Maya is hoping that findings from the study will further clarify the use of music as a way of eliciting positive thoughts and emotions for those undergoing cancer treatment. If you’re interested please download the form and contact Maya Zebley MT-BC Board Certified Music Therapist | | | (909) 645-4123