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Art Therapy (AT)

AT is a clinical intervention that uses the fine arts, such as painting, drawing, or sculpting, to help patients concretely express memories, emotions, and desires.1-3 The goal is to focus both on artistic expression, the process that goes into that expression and how that experience connects with the patient. AT may lead to improved function, self-awareness, self-esteem, and emotional resilience.2-4 AT can also be used to link physical sensations with emotions, which may help decrease discomfort from mood disorders.2 Patients may find AT more approachable for expression in comparison with verbal approaches, and AT is often used in conjunction with other psychotherapies and medication.1,2,5
Description: AT is a clinical intervention that uses the fine arts, such as painting, drawing, or sculpting, to help patients concretely express memories, emotions, and desires.1-3 The goal is to focus both on artistic expression, the process that goes into that expression and how that experience connects with the patient. AT may lead to improved function, self-awareness, self-esteem, and emotional resilience.2-4 AT can also be used to link physical sensations with emotions, which may help decrease discomfort from mood disorders.2 Patients may find AT more approachable for expression in comparison with verbal approaches, and AT is often used in conjunction with other psychotherapies and medication.1,2,5
Potentially effective for the following mental health concerns: Depressive disorders
Potentially effective in the following age groups: Adolescent, Adult, Pediatric, Geriatric
Treatment setting options: Individual, Group
Treatment format options: In-person
Typical treatment duration: < 10 sessions, 10-20 sessions, 20+ sessions, Variable
Potential limitations: Art therapists are highly trained, but art modality and session style can vary between therapists.2,3 While evidence supports the use of AT, more high-quality studies on the effectiveness of AT are needed.1,6

Footnotes:

Supporting references for the filters are as follows:
Potentially effective for the following mental health concerns: Depressive disorders,2,6; Potentially effective in the following age groups: Pediatric,7 Adolescent,7 Adult,7 Geriatric2,7; Treatment setting options: Individual7, Group7; Treatment format options: In-person2; Typical treatment duration: < 10 sessions7, 10–20 sessions7, 20+ sessions7, Variable7

References:

  1. Abbing, A et al. PLoS One. 2018;13(12):e0208716.
  2. Ciasca, EC et al. Braz J Psychiatry. 2018;40(3):256-263.
  3. Iguina, MM & Kashan, S. Art Therapy in StatPearls     (2020).
  4. About Art Therapy. American Art Therapy Association website. 2020. https://arttherapy.org/about-art-therapy/. Accessed June 2, 2020.
  5. Dere-Meyer, C et al. The Arts in Psychotherapy. 2011;38(1):29-35.
  6. Chiang, M et al. Psychiatry Res. 2019;275:129-136.
  7. Slayton, SC et al. Art Therapy. 2010;27(3):108-118.

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