Thesis Title

A Grant Proposal for a Pilot Art Therapy Program with Hospice Patients

Graduation Date

Fall 1995

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


Throughout the ages, cultures around the world have celebrated the rites of death and embraced it as the beginning of another life. Modem people with their need for control, choose to deny that they, too, will one day succumb to the death of their bodies. It is this western thinking and fear of death which causes hospice patients to be fearful of the unknown. Death then becomes a battle that they cannot win. In this battle they experience the stages of death and dying including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Without support hospice patients face dying and the emotions associated with dying alone.

An Art Therapist, working within hospice, can help patients deal with the unspeakable issues in each stage of dying by giving them permission to express their fears, concerns, and fantasies about death through visualization and imagery in non-verbal creative tasks. Each task, designed by a trained art therapist, gives hospice patients the permission to express emotions, face reality, and grieve for their impending losses. Taking control of how they face death and addressing their losses, decreases patients feelings of depression, denial, anger, and isolation.

For hospice patients psychologically numbed by the reality of their imminent death, art therapy interventions provide the vehicle for heuristic learning and psychological healing.