This research study provides a concise description of etiological causes and
diagnostic criteria defining schizophrenia and summarizes current treatment objectives and
interventions to manage symptoms related to this brain disease. The researcher compared
and contrasted current and historical documentation supporting the use of art making
experiences to enhance self-expression and interpersonal communication for individuals with
mental illness. The study investigated findings of renowned art therapy and allied
professionals, as well as biographical narratives of “outsider artists” who have used art
making to promote personal well being and inclusion into mainstream society.
A four week pilot study was implemented at a psycho-social rehabilitation program
for individuals with chronic mental illness to evaluate participants’ response to a supportive,
ego-strengthening approach to art therapy interventions. Approximately one-third of the
participants had previous experience using art therapy interventions. The remaining twothirds had never participated in an art therapy program.
At the conclusion of the four week art therapy program, individual surveys were used
to evaluate participants’ personal experiences and measure efficacy of the art therapy
program. Participants’ responses strongly indicated they would participate in future art
therapy programs at the agency, therefore, validating the utilization of art therapy in
treatment and the recovery process.