The use of Art Therapy, and particularly the composition of windows within the art, to aid the understanding and experience of paediatric chronic pain, to improve the psychological wellbeing of an adolescent.
This research project presents a single case study of a fifteen-year-old girl. The adolescent was referred to the Psychological Support Service within a children’s hospital, to address the psychological and psychosocial impacts of chronic pain. The client was of particular interest to the Art Therapist researcher due to the undiagnosed impacts, and the psychosomatic characteristics, of the pain. The aim of this research was to investigate the utilisation an of Art Therapy service, within a medical model, over a sixth month period, to improve the psychological wellbeing of an adolescent experiencing chronic pain. A phenomenological hermeneutic approach facilitated an in-depth single case study which examines how Art Therapy can provide effective therapeutic treatment. The aim of this research became apparent after a thematic analysis of the therapeutic work, which explored how a window depicted within the therapeutic work can aid both the client and therapist in Art Therapy. The study will also consider how the concept of the window can aid the understanding of the psychological and psychosocial impacts of chronic pain. The research considered the window, a liminal object, a symbol of internal and external space. The window provided a means to articulate how chronic pain that had caused the client to withdraw from the outside world, remaining within the internal space, looking onto a world the client was not part of. This paper presents a review of literature, firstly considering adolescent development; the underpinning knowledge for this case. To follow, it will outline the understanding of chronic pain in children and young people, specifically reviewing literature on the psychological and psychosocial impacts of children and young people with chronic pain. The literature will then explore the composition of windows within Art Therapy, as well as its relevant use within visual arts. To this end, the theoretical approach will be examined, and the methodology of the research explained. The chronology of the Art Therapy will be presented, detailing a narrative of the therapeutic work, analysis of images and a theoretical understanding of the work. Findings are discussed and conclusions and recommendations for the case are formulated.