Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Art Therapy)


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Supervisor

Dr Michael Campanelli


This thesis is designed to investigate how art assisted in the healing process of a person suffering from a life threatening illness. The research method used is a clinical case study. This study is a form of evaluative research, a systematic data-based inquiry concerning the participant's engagement with art in her healing process, a process which unfolds as being both life affirming and spiritually enriching. This case study takes a qualitative approach, with its emphasis on the participant's own account of her behaviour. The participant is a fifty-three year old woman, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma seven years ago. Multiple myeloma is cancer of the bone marrow and blood, a medically incurable form of cancer (Mayo Clinic, 1996; Macpherson, 1995). The principles of Holistic Medicine and Arts Medicine provide the theoretical framework. Data was accumulated from multiple sources: in-depth, open-ended interviews; direct observation; video-tapes; audio-tapes; written documentation and artwork. Art therapy literature reveals a scarcity of formal evaluative research in the area of how art assists people in their healing of a life-threatening illness (Malchiodi, 1993a, l993b). This research project follows the tradition of existing studies and formally documents one person's journey. The aim is to assist in efforts to develop art interventions that will promote healing for people suffering from serious illnesses, and in many cases, those facing imminent death.

Included in

Art Therapy Commons