top of page

Is Art Therapy a Recommended Treatment for Schizophrenia? by Tara Mandarano (Part. 3)

Art therapy for positive symptoms

A Pinsker believes that art therapy can provide an important distraction from disturbing or paranoid thoughts and hearing voices. According to Dr. Akua Boateng, a licensed psychotherapist based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, “Art can be connected to emotional regulation, as well as brain and body integration. As a result, utilizing creativity can ground one in present reality, and improve relationships and emotional expression.” It can also combat stress, says Jenny Lee, an art therapist based in Washington state. “The latest researchTrusted Source says that even 45 minutes of art-making lowers salivary cortisol levels in the body.”

Art therapy for negative symptoms You may find it hard to verbally communicate your thoughts and emotions to a psychotherapist. Art therapies, on the other hand, may help you bypass this obstacle and express yourself in alternative ways. “It can also mitigate feelings of anxiety and depression as a result of mental illness,” says Pinsker. She says that art therapy can help some people with the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as some of the side effects of common medications.

Can art therapy be used as the main therapy? Art therapy can be used with talk therapy to support the verbal expression of internal experience,” Boateng says. “But some people might find it more feasible to express themselves via art than talking.” Pinsker agrees with this assessment. “Art therapy works well in conjunction with other modalities as a complementary therapy,” she says.

Individual versus group art therapy The existing literature on music therapy has found little difference in the effectiveness of group versus private therapy sessions. Group sessions are generally recommended, though, because they may help with socializing and connecting to others. Schizophrenia may cause you to feel isolated. Participating in a group may make you feel more confident, as the setting promotes a strong sense of belonging. Pinsker agrees. “In our art therapy groups, we would start by having each person create an image on a large canvas as a way to share what they were experiencing in that moment. They would also number how they were feeling (1 to 10, where 1 means feeling pretty low and 10 means feeling great). Then each person would share about their image and how they were feeling that day.” She continues, “At the end of the group, people would share thoughts on their own art, ask questions, or make observations about other participants’ art. Almost always, they checked out feeling better than they did when they started.” For example, one person said: “I started at a 4 because I felt really tired and lonely. Now I’m feeling a 7 because it was very relaxing to paint for this past hour and hang out and talk with other people in this group.”

Art therapy during episodes of psychosis “Art therapy can be used as primary or adjunctive treatment,” says Lee Ann Thill, an art therapist and counselor based in Philadelphia. “People who are actively psychotic, and being treated in a facility — inpatient, residential, partial — often have art therapy as part of therapeutic programming.” She says that when art therapy is the primary treatment, it’s typically in cases of outpatient treatment. In these situations, a person’s symptoms are usually managed, and they wouldn’t be in crisis with active psychosis. Thill notes that in her experience, many people who live with schizophrenia and psychosis genuinely enjoy art therapy, which often helps with their overall engagement in treatment.

Let’s recap At this point in time, “gold standard” research for art therapy, which involves randomized control trials, is the exception rather than the rule. Although this well-respected studyTrusted Source has concluded that art therapies don’t significantly lower total or positive symptoms, researchers did find a “small” therapeutic effect for negative symptoms. The main challenge when measuring the efficacy of art therapy is that studies are often conducted while participants are undergoing other treatments (i.e., medication). The varying qualifications of the person in charge of your creative program can also be an issue. You might have a professionally trained art therapist teaching you to dance or paint. Or, you may get a more general healthcare professional. In the United States, at least, creative art therapy training is regulatedTrusted Source. The best thing art therapy has going for it is its potential to help you connect and communicate better — with yourself, your peers, and your therapists. The types of art therapies available are vastly different from traditional treatment techniques. Visual art, music, dance, drama, and writing all have the ability to promote therapeutic healing by bringing out your creative side. To find an art therapist, use the Art Therapist Locator through the American Art Therapy Association. Also, call your insurance provider to find out what treatment options or support groups are available near you.

Source here:

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page