Finding Meaning in the Pain: The Use of Art Therapy with People in Chronic Pain

by Heather Cameron

This thesis gives an overview of the use of art therapy with people in chronic pain. It begins with a discussion of the unknowability of another's pain and the lack of language to communicate the experience of pain. It goes on to suggest that making art can provide an effective vehicle for the expression of pain. Recent findings in pain research have determined that attitudes, thoughts and emotions are integral to the perception of pain, and therefore an eclectic approach to art therapy that incorporates cognitive-behavioural techniques may be a viable strategy in the management of chronic pain. A plan for an art therapy group for people with chronic pain is outlined and the clinical description of this population and treatment issues are discussed. Three case studies are presented. I conclude with the specific benefits of art therapy for this population and questions for further research.