A recent report reveals that women with breast cancer receiving radiation treatment experienced improved mental health, physical health, and an overall higher quality of life after 5 sessions of art therapy.
The findings were a result of testing art therapy intervention among 41 women receiving radiation treatment for breast cancer. The women were randomly selected as part of one of two groups. The first group received five individual art therapy sessions for one hour per week, while the control group did not participate in any art therapy sessions.
The group of women with breast cancer that were selected to participate in art therapy had to answer questions about their quality of life before the start of radiation treatment, 2 months after radiation, and 6 months after the start of radiation treatment.
A trained art therapist administered each art therapy session and a variety of art materials were made available to the women with breast cancer. The same art materials were made available during all sessions: sheets of paper, a roll of paper, oil pastels in 48 colours and oil paints, tempera fluid, lead pencils, charcoal, adhesive tape, scissors and paintbrushes. The goals of the art therapy sessions were to give support, restore body image and reduce stress by giving the women sufficient time and space to reflect and express themselves.
After 6 months, the women who participated in the art therapy intervention showed an overall improvement in total health, quality of life, psychological and physical health. There was a significant and positive influence on future perspectives of self and body image.
Measuring the Quality of Life in Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
For many women, being diagnosed with cancer can cause fears of pain, dying, economic changes, social changes, and dependence. It can also affect a woman’s cognitive, emotional and social functioning. Both breast cancer and its treatment can cause various physical disabilities like hair loss, losing a breast, weight problems, and many other things which can cause women to feel alienated from their own bodies.
Women with breast cancer often feel lonely and isolated and worry about sparing other people’s feelings and concerns. The woman will often isolate herself from loved ones so they don’t become too emotionally involved. The findings of the report suggest that fostering an environment for women with breast cancer that allows them to express and comprehend their experiences and feelings will improve their quality of life. This is where the art therapy part of the study helps.
Art Therapy and Breast Cancer
Medical and professional art therapy supports the concept of the mind influencing the body in positive ways. There is more and more research about the benefits of art therapy, such as reduced symptoms from anxiety and depression, reduced stress, improved self-esteem, increased communication, and more energy among other things.
This particular study is part of a larger project on art therapy and breast cancer in women. Previous studies demonstrated improved coping resources for women with breast cancer and the ability of women to “access ideas and practices that gave legitimacy to an active protection of their own boundaries against demands by others.”
You can read more details about the report here.