Pathworking: A Mixed Methods Study of Eco-Art Therapy and Mindfulness in Women with Eating Disorders

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Johnson, Adrienne
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This research study investigated the effect of the eco-art therapy intervention ‘pathworking’ on the experience of mindfulness of women with eating disorders. The experience of mindfulness was examined using a convergent mixed-methods design. Six participants engaged in two, 90-minute group art therapy sessions. Each session began with a mindfulness meditation. In the first session, the participants created art on river rocks based on their current emotional experience. In the second session, participants engaged in a group sculptural process to create a path with their art rocks. Participants completed the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory measurement at the beginning of the first session and end of the second session. Although this study's results were statistically significant, they are not generalizable for populations outside of those with diagnosed eating disorders. The group mindfulness scores exhibited and increase of t(5) = 2.89, moving from 28.83 (SD= 3.06) pre-intervention to 31.67 (SD= 1.97) post-intervention. A thematic analysis was conducted to identify four main themes based on the participants’ verbal discussion during processing and their artwork. The results indicate that ‘pathworking’ may provide an effective intervention for women in eating disorder treatment to increase their experience of mindfulness. Although the results indicated a positive change in their mindfulness experience, it may take a further study of this population to increase the depth of mindfulness experience long-term.