Art therapy has a “clear effect” on severe depression, helping some people to get back to work after time off, new research suggests.
During the research, conducted by Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, 43 patients with “severe” or “moderately severe” depression underwent an art therapy course.
Meanwhile a control group of 36 people with depression and symptoms of the same level did not take part in art therapy.
Activities within the therapy sessions included instructions such as: “create a picture of how you are feeling on this particular day.”
After 10 art therapy sessions, the patients who suffered from severe or moderately severe depression had shown more improvement than the patients in the control group, the researchers concluded.
Art therapy works as a three-way process between the client, the therapist, and the art itself. Through the use of creative techniques, clients can achieve a greater understanding of non-verbal messages within their artwork, which leads to them gaining a better understanding of their thoughts, feelings and behaviours and to access and work through repressed trauma with the support of their therapist.
The art materials provided will often include colouring pencils, pastels, paints and clay which can be used to draw, colour, sculpt or make collages, or however the client feels most comfortable using them.