The meaning, challenges, and characteristics of art therapy for older Holocaust survivors

Roni Israeli, Dafna Regev, Limor Goldner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As individuals age, they face increasing physical and emotional challenges. Older Holocaust survivors may face greater challenges, due to the complex trauma that they experienced throughout their lives. These survivors can at times be resistant to discussing the meaning of their experiences. One type of intervention that can be particularly effective with this population is art therapy. In Israel, in particular, therapists and clients share a unique narrative since the therapists may be second or third generation Holocaust survivors. The present study investigated the art therapy experience for Holocaust survivors in Israel. Five survivors aged 80–90 and their therapists took part in semi-structured interviews examining the different components of art therapy, including the relationship between the therapist and the survivor and the function of the art. The findings suggested that art therapy can have a substantial impact on the survivors’ ability to share and process their stories, often for the first time, thus strengthening the claim that art therapy can assist survivors in finding meaning at the end of life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101783
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Art therapy
  • Holocaust
  • Older adults
  • Survivors
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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