Thesis Title

Using Art Therapy to Reduce Anxiety and Improve the Quality of Recovery in Post-Operative Patients with Amputations

Graduation Date

Spring 2013

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


John Lemmon, PhD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Carolee Stabno, PsyD, MFT


There are approximately 1.7 million people in the United States living with limb loss (NLICC Staff, 2008]. There are many reasons for amputations such as: trauma, accident, diabetes, peripheral vascular disorder, cancer, and other medical complications. The majority of amputations are dyvascular, which are commonly brought on by complications from uncontrolled diabetes. Of the occur in the United States each year, dyvascular are the most common followed by amputations that traumatic limb loss and cancer related amputations (NL1CC Staff, 2008], The majority of people face tremendous amounts of anxiety when they enter a hospital and are undergoing surgery for an amputation. They will also be coping with their recovery and the new changes they will be faced with after their amputation(s). How many of these people are actually treated for their anxiety around receiving an amputation? How many of these people are getting the most out of their recovery Process? Most often the focus is on treatment for their physically related symptoms rather than their psychological ones. Those psychological symptoms such as anxiety, are crucial to monitor in the recovery process following an amputation, and if not properly dealt with can impair and slow down the quality and process of recovery. This proposes the use of Art therapy as a modality to help aid in the decrease of anxiety after an amputation and to attempt to improve the overall quality of recovery while patients are in a hospital setting. Art therapy can provide a range of beneficial strategies and outcomes to aid in decreasing anxiety surrounding an amputation and to have an aid in providing a more successful recovery.