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Art Therapy for Ill Children

The purpose of this paper is to present an annotated bibliography of publications about (or relevant to) the use of art therapy for populations for children with life-threatening illnesses. The paper concludes with personal comments regarding insights I have received about art therapy as used for this population.

Sourkes, B.M. (1991). Truth to life: Art therapy with pediatric oncology patients and their siblings. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 9(2), 81-96.

This publication discusses art therapy as a tool to facilitate the emotional expression of both children with cancer and their healthy siblings. Three specific techniques are described: (1) the mandala (color-feeling wheel); (2) the change-in-the-family drawing; and (3) the "scariest" drawing. The structured aspect of the three methods are said to allow the therapist to ask highly focused questions as well as interpret the drawings with the context of the child's individual perceptions of reality. Adaptations of the techniques with children whose ages range from 3 years upward are also discussed; further, the use of art therapy in conjunction with individual, family, or group counseling is examined.

Bertoia, J. & Allan, J. (1988). Counseling seriously ill children: Use of spontaneous drawings. Elementary School Guidance Counseling, 22(3), 206-221.

This article examines how an art therapy counselor can help a child deal with the awareness of his or her won death by providing an opportunity for expressing fears and other emotions through art. The general literature on seriously ill children is reviewed and the use of art therapy for these children is examined. A sample of the artwork produced during the last year of the life of a third grader with leukemia is presented.

Johnson, R.C. (1987). Using computer art in counseling children. Special Issue: Counseling with expressive arts. Elementary School Guidance and Counseling, 21(4), 262-265.

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Art Therapy for Ill Children. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:20, May 24, 2020, from