Art Therapy and Cancer Care

Art Therapy and Cancer Care

Art Therapy and Cancer Care

Art Therapy and Cancer Care


Inspired by the experience of art therapists who have pioneered work with people with cancer and including those who have experienced this devastating illness at first hand, this book acknowledges the outstanding work of the Corinne Burton Trust which has supported the development of art therapy services in hospices and clinics throughout the United Kingdom.

Narratives, case studies, new theoretical insights, and the inclusion of writing from Italy, France and the United States of America contribute to the strength and originality of the book. Therapeutic work is placed in its institutional context, demonstrating the importance for the art therapy service of being understood, supported and valued at managerial level - and how the lack of this can impact adversely on patient care. Moreover, many of the contributions have a sociological and anthropological nature, which gives the book a unique and challenging dimension.

Art Therapy and Cancer Care is key reading for art therapists, artists in health care and other health or social care professionals who are looking for approaches that will improve the quality of living for cancer patients, yet not shy away from the process of dying.

The contributors
Jacqui Balloqui, Maureen Bocking, Timothy Duesbury, Ken Evans, Cinzia Favara-Scacco, Barry Falk, Elizabeth Goll Lerner, David Hardy, Kathryn Horn Coneway, Paola Luzzatto, Caryl Sibbett, Elizabeth Stone Matho, Michele Wood, Diane Waller.


A number of striking changes seem to be taking place in the way we view cancer in the contemporary world. A disease once deeply stigmatised in the west has now been transformed by a new 'gaze' which has brought it from the backstage areas of human social relations into a much more central place within the contemporary culture of health and illness – witness the explorations of cancer in popular magazines, newspapers, television, literature and film. The metaphorical and narrative aspects of cancer experience are an important part of this process – and this potential for representation within the disease, for narrative and story, for visual and three-dimensional expression, seems to resonate for many patients and sometimes for professionals as well. One particular aspect of this is that a striking metaphor of much health care practice relating to cancer care has become that of 'the journey' – to encounter the disease is to enter on a path that may have many features – stages and phases; predictable and unpredictable elements; and perhaps most tellingly, the potential for personal growth and discovery. The growing interest in patients' stories, narratives, journals and diaries is one aspect of this. The potential for artwork and art-making to illuminate these processes is another.

In recent years, art therapists have been undertaking their work in a variety of settings where people with cancer can be found: in oncology units, in hospices, in palliative care services, in patients' own homes. In addition, some specialist voluntary organisations and non-profit foundations have been developed which place the use of art therapy very centrally within their concept of care. There is a sense in which art therapy has become acknowledged as part of the legitimate spectrum of activities that make up the modern portfolio of cancer care. Art therapists have become more numerous, training and supervision opportunities have expanded, and awareness . . .

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