Liminality, cancer and art therapy
: Autoethnographic exploration - living with the tiger

  • Caryl Sibbett

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This research aims to systematically investigate the concept of liminality and it relevance to my personal, professional and theoretical experiences of cancer and art therapy.

    The Literature Review and Bricolage chapter reviews background literature on cancer and art therapy. It then presents a bricolage of literature, findings and discussion as it investigates the relevance of liminality at the theoretical level by interweaving its literature with that of cancer and art therapy. It examines key liminal characteristics of limbo, powerlessness /power, playing, communitas and embodiment. This presents an integrative. Improvisational and exploratory synthesis that develops various existing components.

    The Methodology evaluates the use of a qualitative bricolage approach located within the constructivist paradigm. This features a predominantly autoethnographic methodology that draws on autobiographical, ethnographic, narrative and art -based research methods. Multimodal data collection procedure are used and the data analysis is guided by framework analysis, grounded theory and visual methodologies. Relevant complex and sensitive ethics issues are debated.

    The Lived Experience chapter presents a bricolage of data_ Firstly the research lens focus inward "exposing a vulnerable self' to explore autobiographical expression of my experiences of liminality during cancer and art-making. Secondly, it focuses on the impact of cancer care work on me as an art therapist. Thirdly, the lens focuses outward to explore six clinical vignettes. Throughout this chapter the data is presented in themes consistent with the framework analysis of the key characteristics of liminality (Turner, 1995) and the research lens moves “back and forth” to include individual and socio-cultural aspects.

    The discussion extends earlier integrated discussion and critically evaluates the findings., strengths and weakness of the research. The research highlights the shifting meanings and the conscious and non-conscious intersubjective and soci0-cultural dynamics inherent in cancer and art-making experiences. It discusses the revelatory and inclusive value of art and the relevance of liminality to art therapy, healthcare practice, research and training.
    Date of AwardJul 2006
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Queen's University Belfast
    SupervisorRuth Leitch (Supervisor)

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