[Art therapy in chronic pain]

Schmerz. 1991 Sep;5(3):115-21. doi: 10.1007/BF02528096.
[Article in German]


In the therapy of chronic disease and functional disorders, art therapy is considered to be of increasing importance. The idea behind this type of therapy is that the stimulation of creative activities promotes the healing process and rehabilitation. Music therapy in particular has a long tradition in the treatment of pain and health disorders. In patients, whose perception of disease and treatment expectation is determinated by the idea that their pain results from physical causes alone, compliance in music therapy is usually better than direct psychotherapeutic approaches. In addition to music therapy, the creative arts, creative dance and movement-based creative therapy have also been used in the treatment of patients with chronic pain. A model of chronic pain as a changeable phenomenon of consciousness which depends on subjective perception, communication and coping is the basis for understanding art therapy. The conceptual framework of art therapy offers various explanations for the integration of these forms of therapy in complementary, supportive pain management programs: (1) enhancing the activity level and creative capacity as a healing source; (2) stimulation of positive emotional experience; (3) experiencing social communication and interaction; (4) facilitating projective coping; (5) stimulation of imaginative experience and awareness; (6) promotion of suggestive elements. Anecdotical experience indicates that there could be a broad field for the use of art therapy in pain management programs. The need to validate this form of therapeutic approach by appropriate methodological studies and well-documentated single case series is emphasized.

Publication types

  • English Abstract