Date of Award

Spring April 2016

Access Restriction

Research Projects

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Debra Linesch


This research examines the experience of a long-term creative arts project within a women’s cancer support group. Specifically, the research explores the effects of a creative arts project on quality of life. Literature describing cancer support groups has been reviewed, as well as literature published which specifically studied the effects of art therapy with those living with from medical illnesses including, but not limited to, cancer. Qualitative data was gathered through surveys, interviews, and by analysis of the creative art projects. Group participants were offered the directive to create an altered book in which to express their cancer journey. The art directive was a long-term project, with participants given the opportunity to work on their altered books over the course of six months. Both the processes by which the creative art projects were created as well as the content of the finished products were evaluated. Four prominent themes were discovered during analysis of data; time, a sense of life and growth, gratitude for social connections, and the creative process. These findings were then examined in the context of the general literature as well as art therapy literature on medical support groups. The research supports general literature which identifies that cancer diagnoses and treatment can create social isolation, creating a vital need for social relations and connection. The art therapy research studied chose to focus more on the art product, whereas this research also greatly considers the process of the art-making as significant data.