Outcomes in Art Therapy and Verbal Therapy: A Comparative Study

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Havlin, Meghan
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of art therapy in comparison to verbal therapy in improving the following patient symptoms: pain, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, lack of appetite, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, and general well-being. The methodology consisted of surveying 15 adults from a psychiatric facility in Ohio, who volunteered to complete an Edmonton Symptom Assessment Survey- Revised (ESAS-R), asking participants to rate the severity of their symptoms on a scale of “0” to “10” before and after Art Therapy Group (ATG) and before and after Psychotherapy Group (PTG), in order to compare the influence of PTG and ATG on symptom improvement. The percentage of individuals who rated symptoms as improved were then calculated and compared between ATG and PTG to assess whether or not the majority of symptoms would be improved equally as much or more after ATG as PTG. It washypothesized before the survey that the majority of symptoms would be rated by participants as equally or more improved after ATG in comparison to PTG. The results indicated that the hypothesis was generally correct. However, questionable results were discovered amongst symptoms, such as the fact that ATG participants rated improvement in most symptoms, but rated “general well-being” as “worsened” after ATG. These discrepancies and related topics are discussed further in the conclusion. Potential implications of the data suggested that art therapy may be as effective as verbal therapy in improving patient symptoms, but that each field may offer varying benefits, and may be most effective when utilized together in an interdisciplinary format. Implications for future studies suggest more limited and contained variables (such as surveying individuals on the same day rather than over several days), to improve the variability and reliability of the study in future attempts.