When Adolescent and Young Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer Become Stuck: Could an Art Therapy Intervention Be Helpful?
Adolescent and young adult (AYA) survivors of childhood cancer face a variety of psychological and social challenges as a consequence of prolonged early life stress and exposure to the unpredictable environment of the cancer experience. They are prone to risky behaviors as they navigate education, employment, and social relationships, all while transitioning into adulthood. Typical developmental tasks are often hampered by a bias toward a reactive way of responding to events and a tendency to avoid negative emotions in order to cope with stress. Identity development is a particular challenge as they seek to integrate their cancer experience and cope with social pressures of emerging adulthood. To further complicate matters, parents of AYA survivors often perceive their children as medically vulnerable and remain overprotective, which can be a source of stress. Thus, it is not surprising that some AYA survivors become stuck and require specific psychological interventions to manage the process of identity formation and psychosocial adversity. While cognitive behavioral interventions can effectively decrease psychosocial symptoms, they do not address the more complex issues of AYA survivors' experiences. It is argued that a psychodynamic-type intervention, tapping into deeper processes related to emotional and identity development, is warranted. An example of an art intervention, the mandala, is proposed.
Cancer, Art therapy, Medicine and art
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