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Creating doorways: finding existential meaning and growth through the creative arts in the face of life-threatening illness


Creating doorways: finding existential meaning and growth through the creative arts in the face of life-threatening illness

Reilly, Rosemary C. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7274-4488, Lee, Virginia, Laux, Katherine and Robitaille, Andréanne (2017) Creating doorways: finding existential meaning and growth through the creative arts in the face of life-threatening illness. In: Creative practices for improving health and social inclusion. University of Seville - Vicerrectorado de Investigación- V Plan Propio de Investigación, Seville, Spain, pp. 279-289. ISBN 13- 978-84-697-3582-4

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Official URL: http://hdl.handle.net/11441/65469


Life-threatening illness can be sufficiently traumatic to shatter one‘s beliefs about self, others, and the world. This disruption can trigger an instinctive search for meaning. Research highlights that how individuals respond post-adversity can make the difference between experiencing posttraumatic stress or posttraumatic growth (PTG) and existential growth (EG). This paper presents the findings of a pilot study situated in a tertiary care cancer centre and details the impact of creative arts therapy on the experiences of individuals living through breast cancer. Ten women were interviewed about their experiences making art, many for the first time. Emergent themes included: the significant benefits of art-making on their sense of self-efficacy; the emotionally enhancing nature of art-making; the power of their artwork to trigger insights (including subthemes of EG, PTG) or in communicating their experiences to loved ones; and how art-making changed their worldview and life philosophies, creating doorways of possibilities. Findings suggest that art-making provides a safe, dynamic context for individuals experiencing breast cancer to reflect on profound personal changes and to re-story losses following adversity through creative arts practices.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Applied Human Sciences
Concordia University > Research Units > Centre for Human Relations and Community Studies
Item Type:Book Section
Authors:Reilly, Rosemary C. and Lee, Virginia and Laux, Katherine and Robitaille, Andréanne
Date:15 September 2017
  • Centre For Human Relations and Community Studies
  • Quebec Nursing Intervention Research Network
  • Cedars CanSupport
Keywords:posttraumatic growth, existential growth, cancer, art therapy, art making
ID Code:983301
Deposited On:14 Dec 2017 16:49
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:56


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