Art Therapy as a Liminal, Playful Space: Patient Experiences during a Cancer Rehabilitation Program

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Many patients with cancer face existential challenges struggling to find mental respite from their illness and a space for processing and transforming difficult thoughts and concerns. Research has shown that providing a room for cancer patients’ own creative expression can foster healing processes and mental well-being. Using theories of Donald W. Winnicott and liminality as a theoretical lens, we aim to show how a group of 40 cancer patients participating in a rehabilitation program have experiences of transition through art therapy. 33 women and seven men (within the age span of 31–76 years), across all disease stages and types of cancer, participated in a five-day rehabilitative program, addressing different existential themes (e.g., death, hope, love). On the last day of the course, we performed focus group interviews to explore the participants’ perceived significance of the art therapy among other course elements. The analysis led to three main processes of transition: a) engaging in a new creative realization or refusing to do so, b) therapeutic change, and c) reintegration: contemplation and peace. We show how the participants’ experiences can be understood as a space of reflection on new patterns of life. The use of art therapy as an extended part of a rehabilitation care contributes to positive processes of “corrective emotional experiences” and to transformation of crisis by fostering patient expression, especially in combination with encounter groups.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExperience on the Edge : Theorizing Liminality
EditorsBrady Wagoner, Tania Zittoun
Publication date20. Oct 2021
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-83170-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-83171-4
Publication statusPublished - 20. Oct 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Art Therapy as a Liminal, Playful Space: Patient Experiences during a Cancer Rehabilitation Program'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this