Insight and Inner Peace in Palliative Care Professionals after an Art Therapy Workshop Focused on Personal Self-Care: A Preliminary Experience
María Arantzamendi 1 2 , Paula Sapeta 3 , Nadia Collette 4 , Ana Baños Sesma 5 , María Teresa Torres Pérez-Solero 6 , Fernando Iribarren Echarri 6 , Carlos Centeno 1 2 7
Background: Emotional exhaustion is a problem many palliative care (PC) professionals face during their activity. Art therapy is emotionally beneficial for palliative patients who experience suffering, but its impact on professionals' experience of suffering has not been researched.
Objective: To examine the immediate reactions of professionals after an art therapy workshop focused on personal self-care, also considering previously used coping strategies.
Design: A four-hour art therapy workshop was designed including a generic qualitative study of participants. Participants were PC professionals and their reactions were examined using an ad hoc questionnaire with open-ended questions.
Descriptive analysis of quantitative variables and thematic analysis of open-ended questions were conducted.
Results: Seventeen professionals participated voluntarily. They rated the workshop positively, using words such as "calm" and "relaxation" to express the effects of the workshop, which they considered therapeutic and a source of self-awareness. For some, it allowed them to release emotions; for others, it enabled introspection and opened up a more elaborated emotional response.
They thought artistic expression would be useful for their colleagues, or even for their own personal development. In the workshop, professionals opened up and explained how they face intense moments on a day-to-day basis: how they approach the situation, or how they try to control their surroundings; how they disconnect/distance themselves; and how they consider circumstances as a learning process and source of self-nurturing. Participants described art therapy as calming, healing the most intense feelings, and feeding the soul.
Conclusion: Professionals reacted immediately with enthusiasm to art therapy, positively assessing its effects. Some attributed effects are in line with daily strategies of connecting with one's inner self. Others are about promoting self-awareness and inner peace, while providing healing opportunities.
Art therapy may play a role in self-care for the PC professional, and should be researched further. Research Ethics Committee of the Universidad de Navarra approved the study (Number: 2019.167).