Creative Art Making in Palliative Care

  • Kirsty BeilharzEmail author
  • Christopher Poulos
  • Roslyn Poulos
  • Janette Fodera
  • Andrew Cole
  • Roderick MacLeod
Living reference work entry


This chapter has an intentionally broad title to convey the breadth of ways that arts (with an emphasis on visual arts but also performative, poetic, tactile, and narrative art forms) contribute to whole-person wellness, hope, and engagement, across a range of stages encountered in palliative care services. This chapter looks at participatory arts, community and creative art facilitation, and art therapy. While there is considerable overlap in the utility of art and its benefits, such as creative enabling and expression for the patient, the range of approaches to art in palliative care herald from different disciplines, with different objectives, and are usually practised by people with distinctive professional backgrounds. It will also be clear that aspects of art facilitation in palliative care overlap substantially with approaches found in mental healthcare, dementia care, aged care, rehabilitation, and wellness initiatives in the general population. Specific to palliative care are the needs of the individual patient. Arts in palliative care now cross a range of settings, from hospital or hospice to residential care homes and community settings, variously with a dedicated studio space or a relatively mobile setup provided by the practitioner in any venue, even at the bedside. There is also some degree of nexus between arts in palliative care discussed here and psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, music engagement, “social clubs,” and initiatives for art appreciation offered by art organizations, galleries, or museums and community-run art-making courses. However, this chapter focuses on the art experience tailored to people with palliative care needs.


  1. Beilharz K. Music remembers me: connection and wellbeing in dementia. Sydney: HammondCare Media; 2017.Google Scholar
  2. Berger J. About looking. New York: Penguin Random House; 1992.Google Scholar
  3. Blanton PG. The other mindful practice: centering prayer and psychotherapy. Pastor Psychol. 2011;60(1):135–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Britton WB. The physiology of stress and depression and reversal by meditative techniques. In: Integrating mindfulness-based interventions into medicine, health care, and society. Fourth annual conference for clinicians, researchers and educators. Worcester: Center for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts Medical School; 2005.Google Scholar
  5. Bultz BD, Carson LE. Emotional distress: the sixth vital sign – future directions in cancer care. Psycho-Oncology. 2006;15(2):93–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Carlson LE, Waller A, Mitchell AJ. Screening for distress and unmet needs in patients with cancer: review and recommendations. J Clin Oncol. 2012;30(11):1160–77.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Case C, Dalley T. The handbook of art therapy. Kindle ed. 3rd ed. London: Routledge; 2014. Accessed 7 Feb 2018.Google Scholar
  8. Coaten R. Movement matters. In: Marsden S, Turner J, editors. The family arts recipe book – a recipe book of creative ideas to inspire. Calderdale: Verd de Gris; 2008.Google Scholar
  9. Coaten R. Creating a little revolution – the patient as artist. In: Greenland P, editor. What dancers do that other health workers don’t. Leeds: Jabadao; 2009.Google Scholar
  10. Connell C. Art therapy as part of the palliative care programme. Palliat Med. 1992;6:18–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Corbett M, Lovell M, Siddall P. The role of spiritual factors in people living with chronic pain: a qualitative investigation. J Study Spiritual. 2017;7(2):142–53. Scholar
  12. Craig C, Killick J. Creativity and communication in persons with dementia: a practical guide. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 2012.Google Scholar
  13. Craig A, Tran Y, Siddall P, Wijesuriya N, Lovas J, Bartrop R, Middleton J. Developing a model of associations between chronic pain, depressive mood, chronic fatigue, and self-efficacy in people with spinal cord injury. J Pain. 2013;14(9):911–20.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Csikszentmihalyi M. Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper Perennial Publishers; 1990.Google Scholar
  15. Dannecker EA, Price DD, O’Connor PD, Robinson ME. Appraisals of pain from controlled stimuli: relevance to quantitative sensory testing. Br J Health Psychol. 2008;13:537–50. Scholar
  16. De Botton A, Armstrong J. Art as therapy. London: Phaidon Press; 2013.Google Scholar
  17. Downey L, Curtis JR, Lafferty WE, Herting JR, Engelberg RA. The quality of dying and death questionnaire (QODD): empirical domains and theoretical perspectives. J Pain Symptom Manag. 2010;39(1):9–22. Scholar
  18. Erskine A, Judd D. The imaginative body: psychodynamic therapy in health care. London: Whurr; 1994.Google Scholar
  19. Fjorback LO, Arendt M, Ornbol E, Fink P, Walach H, et al. Mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2011;124(2):102–19.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Footscray Community Arts Centre. 2013. Accessed 20 Mar 2018.
  21. Gilroy A, Lee C. Art & music: therapy and research. London: Routledge; 1995.Google Scholar
  22. Ginsberg A, Carter D, editors. Spontaneous mind: selected interviews, 1958–1996. New York: HarperCollins Publishers; 2001.Google Scholar
  23. HammondCare. 2016. Arts on prescription. Accessed 20 Mar 2018.
  24. Hartley N, Payne M, Butchers A, Dobbs S, and Gill A. The creative arts in palliative care. Kindle ed. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 2008. Accessed 7 Feb 2018.Google Scholar
  25. Hayes J, McNiff S, and Povey S. The creative arts in dementia care: practical person-centred approaches and ideas. Kindle ed. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 2011. Accessed 19 Feb 2018Google Scholar
  26. Hoffmann Y. Japanese death poems: written by Zen monks and Haiku poets on the verge of death. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing; 1985.Google Scholar
  27. Jansen T. Art therapy with terminally ill individuals. Can Art Ther Assoc J. 1995;9(1):13–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kabat-Zinn J. Mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR). Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York: Delacorte Press; 1990.Google Scholar
  29. Kasayka R. Introduction. In: Innes A, Hatfield K, editors. Healing arts therapies and person-centred care. London: Bradford Dementia Group Good Practice Guides, Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 2002.Google Scholar
  30. Keating T. Intimacy with god: an introduction to centering prayer. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company; 2009.Google Scholar
  31. Kennett C. Psychosocial day care. In: Hearn J, Myers M, editors. Palliative day care in practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2001.Google Scholar
  32. Kennett C, Harmer L, Tasker M. Bringing the arts to the bedside. Eur J Palliat Care. 2004;11(6):254–6.Google Scholar
  33. Kübler-Ross E. On death and dying. London: Tavistock; 1970.Google Scholar
  34. Lee H, Adams T. Creative approaches in dementia care. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan; 2011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Levens M. Art therapy and psychodrama with eating disordered patients. In: Doktor D, editor. Arts therapies and clients with eating disorders: fragile board. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 1995.Google Scholar
  36. Levy F. Dance/movement therapy: a healing art. Reston: American Alliance for Health, Physical Education & Dance; 1992.Google Scholar
  37. Linehan M. Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York: Guilford Press; 1993.Google Scholar
  38. MacLeod R. The unknown sea: an anthology of poems on living and dying. Wellington: Steele Roberts Publishers; 2014.Google Scholar
  39. McNiff S. Art as medicine: creating a therapy of the imagination. Kindle ed. London: Shambala; 1992. Accessed 16 Feb 2018Google Scholar
  40. McNiff S. Art heals: how creativity heals the soul. Kindle ed. (2011). London: Shambala; 2004. Accessed 16 Feb 2018Google Scholar
  41. Merton T. New seeds of contemplation. New York: New Directions Books; 1961.Google Scholar
  42. Mirdal GM. Mevlana Jalal-ad-Din Rumi and mindfulness. J Relig Health. 2010;51:1202–15. Scholar
  43. Monti D, Peterson C, Shakin Kinkel E, Hauck WW, et al. A randomized, controlled trial of mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) for women with cancer. J Psycho-Oncology. 2006;15(5):363–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pennington MB. Centering prayer: renewing an ancient christian prayer for. New York: Image Books Doubleday; 1982.Google Scholar
  45. Pratt M, Wood MJM. Art therapy in palliative care: the creative response. London: Routledge; 1998.Google Scholar
  46. Pratt M, Wood M, Saunders C. Art therapy in palliative care: the creative response. Kindle ed. East Sussex: Routledge; 1998. Accessed 14 Feb 2018.Google Scholar
  47. Rappaport L, Kwong-roshi J, Kass JD, Mullin E, Surrey J, Gluck J, Rothaus M, Beardall N, Gabriel B, Kalmanowitz DL, Lagomaggiore A, Schwanbeck S, Trantham S, Avstreih ZAK, Tantia J, Franklin M, Minerbi L, Payne D, Peterson C, Ventrella G, von Daler K, McNiff S, Allen P, Luzzatto P, Isis P, Fritsche J, Chang F, Herring D, Weiner ET, Grocke D, Oldrini G, Fox J, Van Dort C. Mindfulness and the arts therapies: theory and practice. Kindle ed. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 2014. Accessed 16 Feb 2018.Google Scholar
  48. Rigby T. Selling social inclusion through the arts. A Life in the Day. Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2004;8(3):25–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rosetta Life. 2007. Accessed 14 Mar 2018.
  50. Sacks O. Musicophilia: tales of music and the brain. New York: Knopf; 2007.Google Scholar
  51. Schaverien J. The revealing image. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; 1998.Google Scholar
  52. Shaw B. ‘Parting gifts: palliative care patients’ perceptions of making sculptures. Palliat Care Today. 1999;8(3):36–7.Google Scholar
  53. Stanworth R. Recognising spiritual needs in people who are dying. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Swinton J. Dementia: living in the memories of god. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company; 2012.Google Scholar
  55. Waller D and Sibbett C. Art therapy and cancer care. New York and London: McGraw Hill; 2005.Google Scholar
  56. Wood MJM. Art therapy in one session: working with people with AIDS. In: Inscape: The Journal of the British Association of Art Therapists. Brighton: British Association of Art Therapists; Winter 1990:27–33.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirsty Beilharz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christopher Poulos
    • 2
  • Roslyn Poulos
    • 3
  • Janette Fodera
    • 4
  • Andrew Cole
    • 5
  • Roderick MacLeod
    • 6
  1. 1.Music Engagement, Palliative CareHammondCare, University of New South Wales, Kolling Institute and University of Edinburgh Visiting FellowSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Positive AgeingHammondCare and University of New South WalesHammondvilleAustralia
  3. 3.The School of Public Health and Community MedicineUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Arts on PrescriptionHammondCareSydneyAustralia
  5. 5.RehabilitationHammondCare and University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  6. 6.Palliative CareHammondCare and University of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations