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The Effectiveness of Art Therapy: Does It Work?

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Abstract

This current review of the literature attempts to identify all published empirical evidence regarding art therapy effectiveness. The authors attempt to identify any outcome trends associated with study design (single group with no control group, controlled clinical trial, and randomized controlled clinical trial) and to review the overall literature base concerning art therapy effectiveness. The literature search identifies 17 published studies which met the authors' inclusion criteria. Results show that these three types of study designs produce very similar results regarding the positive effects of art therapy, but their conclusions may appear very different. The clarification of study design differences may lend some insight into the perceived effectiveness of art therapy.
... Over the last few decades extensive research has shown the positive ☆ This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors effects of creative arts therapies on the mental health and well-being of the general public and of varying patient populations (Regev and Cohen-Yatziv, 2018;Reynolds et al., 2000;Slayton et al., 2010). There have been documented benefits of art therapies in the prevention of cognitive decline in adults living with mild cognitive impartment and on the well-being of people living with dementia (Emblad and Mukaetova-Ladinska, 2021;Lee et al., 2019). ...
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There is a growing body of evidence indicating the arts have a role to play in promoting good health and preventing and managing illness. WHO has called for governments to take an intersectoral approach, both within and across traditional areas of policy, to realise the potential of the arts for public health. To explore what global progress is being made towards this aim, we present examples of arts and health policy development from diverse government areas: health, arts, local governments, and cross government. These examples, which have been selected from a scoping review of 172 relevant global policy documents, indicate that many health and arts policy makers view the relationship between arts engagement and improved health in quite general terms, although some are investing in more targeted applications of the arts to address specific public health issues. The most promising and concrete commitments are happening when health and arts ministries or agencies work together on policy development.
... Estas intervenciones, en problemas vinculados con la salud física y enfermedades crónicas, pueden reducir los síntomas concomitantes de ansiedad, depresión o fatiga en pacientes con cáncer. Además, aumentan su autoestima y cohesión social, aunque es-tos estudios no examinan otros tipos de terapias con componentes artísticos (Blaney et al., 2010;Potvin et al., 2015;Reynolds et al., 2000;Thompson et al., 2017). Estos estudios han proporcionado evidencia inicial de que las intervenciones con componentes artísticos benefician a los pacientes adultos a reducir los síntomas de ansiedad y depresión. ...
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El cáncer es una de las principales causas de muerte en el mundo. Son conocidas sus consecuencias negativas en la salud mental de las personas que la padecen. Uno de los más comunes en la sociedad es el cáncer de colon. Los pacientes con este tipo de cáncer reciben mayoritariamente atención médica y farmacológica para sus síntomas físicos. El objetivo de esta revisión es dar a conocer y recalcar la importancia de las intervenciones en depresión y ansiedad en pacientes con cáncer de colon. Esta enfermedad no solo afecta al componente somático, el ajuste psicológico también puede verse alterado en multitud de ocasiones. En la actualidad, muchas terapias psicológicas son usadas para reducir los síntomas de ansiedad y depresión en los pacientes. Estas propuestas de intervención buscan favorecer las condiciones contextuales, psicosociales, cognitivas, emocionales y conductuales de los enfermos. Hasta la fecha, las intervenciones en salud mental han sido de corte cognitivo-conductual o psicosocial. Los resultados concluyen una visión optimista relacionada con los programas de intervención mental, especialmente en terapias relacionadas con técnicas de promoción de la autoeficacia y la actividad física, mostrando cambios relevantes en los niveles de ansiedad, depresión e incluso calidad de vida de los pacientes con cáncer de colon.
... Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) often offer art therapy, as well as many other therapeutic approaches; we wished to review the literature regarding art therapy in CAMHS. Previous systematic reviews of art therapy were not specifically focused on the effectiveness in children [1][2][3][4][5] or were focused on the use of art therapy in children with physical conditions rather than with mental health conditions [6]. The use of art or doodling as a communication tool in CAMHS is long established-Donald Winnicott famously used "the Squiggle Game" to break boundaries between a patient and professional to narrate a story through a simple squiggle [7]. ...
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Art therapy and art psychotherapy are often offered in Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS). We aimed to review the evidence regarding art therapy and art psychotherapy in children attending mental health services. We searched PubMed, Web of Science, and EBSCO (CINHAL®Complete) following PRISMA guidelines, using the search terms (“creative therapy” OR “art therapy”) AND (child* OR adolescent OR teen*). We excluded review articles, articles which included adults, articles which were not written in English and articles without outcome measures. We identified 17 articles which are included in our review synthesis. We described these in two groups—ten articles regarding the treatment of children with a psychiatric diagnosis and seven regarding the treatment of children with psychiatric symptoms, but no formal diagnosis. The studies varied in terms of the type of art therapy/psychotherapy delivered, underlying conditions and outcome measures. Many were case studies/case series or small quasi-experimental studies; there were few randomised controlled trials and no replication studies. However, there was some evidence that art therapy or art psychotherapy may benefit children who have experienced trauma or who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. There is extensive literature regarding art therapy/psychotherapy in children but limited empirical papers regarding its use in children attending mental health services. There is some evidence that art therapy or art psychotherapy may benefit children who have experienced trauma. Further research is required, and it may be beneficial if studies could be replicated in different locations.
... Each of the three steps incorporates drawing. Therefore, it may be better viewing art as an accessory tool to build rapport between investigator and victim whilst drawing out abuse-specific information in the context of the child's development rather than focusing on using art as an investigative tool (Reynolds et al., 2000). Drawing allows the child to make sense of their outside world and connects it with their emotional perception in a way that is amended and governed by them (Longobardi et al., 2015). ...
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In a 2015–2016 UK survey of 35, 248 adults, 7% reported experiencing sexual abuse as children. This review considers the value of Art Therapy (AT) in recognizing individual needs and experiences and supporting victims to manage the lasting impact of abuse. Three main bodies of research were identified: the use of AT in childhood sexual abuse (CSA) investigations; the use of art therapy in the treatment of the psychological sequelae of CSA victims in childhood and adulthood; and an assessment of how art therapy compares to other therapeutic approaches for CSA victims. The review highlights that AT particularly benefits rapport building between victim and therapist/investigator, and alleviates some psychological consequences of sexual abuse – particularly anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and dissociation. By engaging the limbic system, AT may also provide a communicative form, building a narrative where verbal communication is hindered. However, the analysis brings attention to several weaknesses in the current AT research: available studies tend to have small sample sizes and few quantitative findings. This review concludes by identifying the need for research which considers the clinical implications of AT in CSA cases for the future.
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Aims To explore and summarize studies investigating the effect of arts and culture interventions for people living with dementia and their caregivers on the well-being and cognition of the person living with dementia and, caregiver strain. Methods We carried out a systematic search of five electronic databases (PubMed, PsychINFO, Embase, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library). We included original research published in peer-reviewed journals including both qualitative and quantitative studies. We assessed quality of included studies using the Cochrane Collaboration’s Risk of Bias tools. A narrative synthesis was conducted of all included studies. Results Of the 4827 articles screened, 34 articles met inclusion criteria. A variety of interventions were identified, with more than half taking place in a museum or gallery. Five RCTs showed improvements in wellbeing outcomes but no cognitive improvements except in some subscales in a music intervention. Most non-randomised studies reported cognitive improvements and well-being improvements for people living with dementia and their caregivers. Studies primarily focused on individuals with mild to moderate dementia. Conclusions The use of arts and culture interventions may provide benefits for people living with dementia and their caregivers. However, heterogeneity of the interventions and outcome measures prevented generalization of the results. Further research of arts and culture interventions for people living with dementia and their caregivers should utilize larger controlled trials, standardized outcome measures and include individuals with moderate to severe dementia.
Chapter
In this chapter, we provided an overview of approaches to research in art therapy in the past, present, and future. Over the past decades since the discipline was established, the conceptualization of art therapy research has expanded from descriptive case studies to empirical studies, arts-based knowledge, and community-based research (Kaimal, 2017). In this chapter, we included an overview of current research in art therapy while addressing challenges of conducting research in the discipline, including limited funding and research capacity, small sample sizes, and inclusion of artwork as data. Topics we covered in this chapter include most commonly used and accepted research designs (quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, arts-based approaches, and program evaluation), how research can be used to improve clinical practice, tools to evaluate research quality, the importance of participatory and community-based research, and ethical issues when conducting art therapy research. We also included a section on implications and future directions, as well as art experientials and reflective questions to review and further consider the materials.
Article
Emerging adults face significant risk of experiencing mental health problems, especially since most lifetime mental problems have first onset by age 24. Despite the pervasiveness of these issues, emerging adults face barriers in receiving help including stigma surrounding help-seeking behavior and negative attitudes about perceived usefulness of therapy. Creative and expressive art therapies (CATs) can address these needs by providing potentially destigmatized, non-invasive approaches to mental health care. To examine how this population can benefit from CAT, we conducted a systematic review of the literature to understand the types of CAT interventions that have been empirically tested among emerging adults. From a total of 7,276 articles published between 1985 and 2020, we filtered down to 11 studies, both qualitative and quantitative, meeting our inclusion and exclusion criteria. Results showed art therapy and poetry therapy were the most frequently studied CATs for the emerging adult population; and art therapy studies comprised the largest proportion of studies reporting statistical significance on its efficacy among all CATs reviewed. We highlight the need for more studies using replicable, generalizable methods in evaluating CAT. We then discuss implications for counselors, practitioners, and clinician-researchers interested in using CAT to improve mental health care among emerging adults.
Chapter
Since the nineteenth century, many authors debated the role of art to understand psychopathology and psychopathology to understand artistic works, although a specific role of art as a therapeutic approach in psychiatry is recognized with scientific evidence only by the end of the twentieth century. Art therapies are currently defined as various forms of psychological therapy employing different artistic media (painting, graphics, sculpture, dance, theatre, music, etc.), using both expressive and receptive communication modalities. Visual art therapy currently qualifies as a well-established rehabilitation technique, grounded on solid and precise principles, in which the attention to the production of patients is not related to diagnostic classifications, but rather focus on the creative process considered and used within an individualized therapeutic project. The available scientific evidence on visual art therapy tend to show that this form of art therapy is indicated for patients with major psychiatric disorders only as a part of integrated treatment. However, to date, many studies have provided evidence in favor of the idea that visual art rehabilitation programs may be beneficial in inducing a reduction of negative and affective symptoms, in particular for patients with schizophrenia and major mood disorders. The aim of this chapter is to provide, without leaving aside an historical perspective, a vivid picture of what recent research in the field of mental health care is highlighting as more relevant in the field of visual art therapy and to point out the limitations of the current implementation of visual art therapeutic programs, in order to finally shed some light on the directions to be taken by the discipline in the future.
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Recently, the notion of arts as therapy has been of growing interest to sociologists. The aim of this article is to evaluate community-based arts funded projects in terms of their priorities and effectiveness and discuss possibilities for enabling Arts on Prescription schemes in Malta. Thematically, this article explores discourse on the potential of the arts on promoting well-being. Methodologically, this article draws on primary data collected from focus groups, interviews and an online survey with project leaders and artists of funded arts projects targeting mental health, disability or old age. Specifically, this research evaluates all national funded community-based arts projects in Malta between 2014 to 2018 under a national scheme of the President’s Award for Creativity fund, managed by the national Arts Council Malta. Analysis of this data was used to inform the new national cultural policy on the implantation of the Arts on Prescription scheme in Malta.
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This study investigates the use of the creative arts therapies to effect cognition, achievement, motivation, and self-concept in elementary school students. The literature review covers creative thinking, self-concept, competence motivation, and the use of creative arts therapies in the classroom. Creative arts therapies sessions utilizing movement, music, and art therapy conducted by trained dance, music, and art therapists working together, were conducted twice weekly over a three month period with normal second and fourth grade classes. Pre- and post-test measures utilized were: theTorrance Test of Creative Thinking; What I Am Like, a self-concept scale expressing competence perceptions;In The Classroom, a self-support scale of intrinsic/extrinsic motivation toward learning; and theWoodcock measure of reading comprehension. A multivariant analysis of variance suggests positive growth in creative thinking and reading comprehension. Correlational analysis suggests relationships between self-concept, motivation, and creativity. Finally, principle component analysis suggests that the children's resultant thinking had a more original style. The use of creative arts therapies as affective education is discussed.
Chapter
This chapter extends the traditional psychosocial understandings of adolescent development that informed the author's early art psychotherapy work, and includes contemporary sociological and postmodern ideas to investigate and understand current and culturally complicated clinical work. It is useful to look at the mental health difficulties that adolescents experience in the context of the expanded developmental theories. The three cases that are discussed in the chapter are specifically chosen to explore the experiences of adolescents who struggle at the marginalized edges of communities: immigrating and acculturating adolescents; gang affiliating adolescents; and incarcerated adolescents. Their responses to the art therapy process poignantly illustrate the suitability of image-based psychotherapy for these youth whose complex clinical issues can best be understood when psychological development is contextualized in the broadest way possible.
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This study provides support for using art activities in a group counseling format to improve self-esteem among native Hawaiian children.
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This study tested two hypotheses: (a) pre-adolescent boys will show greater growth in positive self-concept as a result of a counseling centered art program than as a result of an intensive non-directive counseling program, and (b) this growth effect will continue into adolescence. Ss were 30 boys who had just completed the sixth grade. The treatment took place over a daily eight weeks summer session. A follow-up was conducted 14 months later. A pre-test, post-test follow-up design using the ten scales of the Tennessee Self Concept Scale as the dependent variables was used. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) supported both hypotheses.
Article
Eleven graduate students who had registered for an elective course in art therapy worked under supervision with 11 unselected learning-impaired children. They used special art techniques designed to develop and evaluate ability to order, perceive, associate, and represent components. After 10 weekly one-hour art periods, the children showed significant gains in concepts of space, order, and class, as measured by pre- and post-tests designed for the study.
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A group of nine “educationally unserved” adolescents (categorically defined by PL 94-142 or “drop outs” as defined by the Providence School Department) underwent an innovative combination of treatments—art therapy, social skills training and video therapy. The outcome suggests that the combination significantly elevates feelings of self worth and esteem in the students and that such feelings are also perceived by teachers and other independent observers.
Article
The pilot study discussed in this article involved the integration of art therapy into the ninth-grade English classroom of an urban high school. The three goals of the study were to reduce drop-out rates, to decrease school failure, and to improve students' attitudes about school, family, and self. The data from three measures indicated that the pilot project was successful in reaching its goals. The discussion of artwork illustrates the success of the program, and ideas for future programming and research are outlined.
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“Very little systematic research has compared different types of treatment for adult victims of sexual assault” (Resick & Schnicke, 1990, p. 488). Art therapy research in the treatment of sexual abuse has mainly been concerned with the content of art expressions produced by clients (Spring, 1984; Ticen, 1990). Therefore, comparative studies of art therapy and group verbal therapy have the potential of aiding therapists in treating this population. Fifteen adult female incest survivors participated in this study which employed a control group and two experimental groups. Participants rated the significance of the curative factors of catharsis, cohesion, and insight in their treatment. The results of this study indicate that group art therapy, using a series of structured tasks, increased the value assigned to each of these curative factors.