Send to

Choose Destination
Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2015 Sep;24(5):695-706. doi: 10.1111/ecc.12269. Epub 2014 Nov 21.

The lived experience of visual creative expression for young adult cancer survivors.

Author information

Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Engaging in visual creative expression individually and in a therapeutic setting can be a beneficial experience for cancer survivors; however, most research in this field has been conducted with older adults. The current study aimed to address this gap by utilising van Manen's hermeneutic phenomenology to answer the following question: 'What is the lived experience and meaning of visual creative expression for young adult cancer survivors?' Seven young adults, diagnosed with cancer between the ages of 18 and 35, were interviewed about creative expression experiences, which they engaged in individually and/or in a therapeutic setting. Data analysis included a thematic reflection, guided existential reflection, and a process of writing and rewriting. Two superordinate themes were identified: increased self-understanding and a healing experience. Seven subthemes were also identified and included the following: being in the flow, allowing the body to express itself, renegotiating control, changing one's environment, being seen, respect for art as a separate entity and giving back. Findings suggest that visual creative expression can be a meaningful experience for young adult cancer survivors, and that this experience espouses both similarities and differences from experiences of older adult survivors. Recommendations are made for future research, in addition to implications for practitioners.


art therapy; cancer; complementary therapy; creative expression; psychosocial interventions; young adults

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center