It is with great enthusiasm that I share this co-authored paper : Online art therapy groups for young adults with cancer published this week via Arts & Health. It was a pleasure to help out with the original pilot for this project with the awesome team of art therapists Kate Collie, Mady Mooney & Sara Prins Hankinson to explore internet based platforms w/ digital and traditional art-based approaches:
Background: This study was the final phase of a participatory design (PD) project aimed at developing professionally led online art therapy groups for young adults with cancer.
Methods: We invited seven professionals with a range of relevant expertise to take part in a PD process that emphasized hands-on creative interaction. Each participant experienced one or more online art therapy sessions and provided feedback that we analyzed with qualitative thematic analysis.
Results: The analysis yielded six inter-related themes representing three types of experience (comfort, sense of connectedness and expression) and three types of therapeutic action that supported these experiences (facilitation, group support and dialog about the art).
Conclusions: The results assured us that our newly developed mode of psychosocial support was ready for online delivery to young adults with cancer. The results provided insight into therapeutic processes in online art therapy groups, especially with regard to collective meaning-making and sense of connection.
Collie, K., S. Prins Hankinson, M. Norton, C. Dunlop, M. Mooney, G. Miller and J. Giese-Davis (2016). “Online art therapy groups for young adults with cancer.” Arts & Health: 1-13.
In the project’s initial pilot, we met online over the course of many, many months through a closed chat room we accessed, as well as a private discussion board where we would post different art directives for our group to work on. During the course of this project each of us would rotate between facilitator, participant, and helped with evaluating the online tools and arts-based methods we were testing.
Some of the directives we participated in used traditional art media and art-making (mandalas, dollmaking to name a couple of my favorites!) either on our own or we created our own images at the same time together, then uploaded our art to our discussion board for further exploration as a group. Other directives we engaged in used online or digital art-based tools, such as Pencil Madness, ArtRage, Polyvore, artPad and more. Often we would schedule a group chat where we could come together to process the directive and experience of exploring these programs and approaches using computer technology. We also had fun with group video chats through Skype and Google Hangouts.
From the experimentation we did and evaluated together, this work helped inspire and inform what would become an online art therapy group that Sara would led for young adults with cancer.
It’s been a pleasure and privilege to work with this tech savvy & creative team! It’s been great to have the opportunity to try out and learn different ways of making art and working together through technology. It’s also exciting to see how this groundwork can then be applied to facilitating online art therapy group work.
I hope you’ll learn more about the results of this project through checking out our paper. Free access is still available for the first 50 downloads of the paper available here. For those individuals who are members of the American Art Therapy Association, a benefit of your membership also includes complimentary access to Arts & Health, where you can also have free access to download the article. Log into AATA’s Members Only section to learn how to access Arts & Health!