Date of Award

5-6-2021

Access Restriction

Research Projects

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Marital and Family Therapy

School or College

College of Communication and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Debra Linesch, PhD, MFT, ATR-BC

Abstract

This paper explores the use of quantitative assessments typically used in research to evaluate experiences of cancer patients and survivors receiving group art therapy services. Literature exploring program evaluation as a methodology, how current research selects standardized measurement tools for the evaluation of art therapy interventions with adult cancer patients and survivors, and on the efficacy of art therapy with this population is reviewed.

Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from four participants, who were clients in two eight-week art therapy groups. Quantitative data were collected in the form of pre- and post-test measurements using six commonly used standardized quality of life assessment tools. Qualitative data were collected via focus groups and art responses. Quantitative data were analyzed to identify general trends in the pre- and post-test measures, demonstrating that no significant positive shifts in symptoms or well-being were documented in the tests. Qualitative data were then analyzed to identify six prominent themes, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the participants’ experience of the tests, the participants’ perceived personal value of the tests, pre- and post-test measures as containment of experience, art responses as accurate representations of the benefits of art therapy, participants’ passion for art therapy, and participants’ feelings that standardized tests did not accurately capture their experience in the group. These findings were then examined in the context of the literature reviewed, and it was concluded that while standardized assessments have a valuable place in research, they do not effectively capture the lived experience of participants in art therapy groups. Furthermore, future research should continue to explore the value of qualitative research, including that which uses art-making, in evaluating art therapy programs and effectiveness.

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