Understanding Schizophrenia: Treatment and Recovery through Art Therapy

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Alto, Andrea
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
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.