First Advisor

Tina Burdsall

Date of Award

Spring 5-26-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Arts and Letters and University Honors


Arts & Letters




Art therapy, death, dying, end of-life care, holistic care, end-of-life education




The purpose of this literature review is to weave together an understanding of what research exists around art therapy in death and dying, what the role of art therapy is in end-of-life care and education, and determine what gaps exist for further study. When it comes to the topic of death and dying, most of us would agree that end-of-life care is extremely important, though this agreement often falls apart regarding what that care looks like, and how we do (or don't) talk and learn about death and dying. This review argues for an integrated holistic model of care concerning end-of-life, as well as for the firm place and expansion of the role of art therapy in end-of-life care and education. Art therapy is introduced to give a general understanding of what it is and how it works and then evidence for the role of art therapy is laid out pertaining to eight themes within end-of-life care that emerged from the data. These themes are: are because art therapy is well suited to spearhead end-of-life education, planning, and health literacy, because it can act as a conduit and support for communication, because art therapy can motivate and expand social wellbeing, because art therapy can guide and promote emotional expression and processing, because art therapy can help aid in relief of pain, anxiety, and depression, because art therapy can inspire hope, purpose, and sense of identity, even in the face of decline, because art therapy can preserve some sense of dignity and autonomy through inclusion and choice, because art therapy can aid in memory organization and cognitive function, and because art therapy can facilitate legacy. The results of the review are that while art therapy has many studied and reported benefits when applied within end-of-life care, much more research -- repeated, detailed, and standardized -- is needed to better understand and apply such interventions.


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Persistent Identifier

Included in

Art Therapy Commons