The Effects of a Creative Expressions Art Group on Adults with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities

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Jerome, Nicole
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
This study investigated the impact of an eight-week Creative Expressions Art group on the self-expression, communication, social functioning, and quality of life of adults with intellectual or developmental (IDD) disabilities. Art directives based on the Expressive Therapies Continuum (ETC) were used to help facilitate the group in exploring their own creativity and allowing them to share verbally and nonverbally amongst each other. This study included pre-and post-measures with the Quality-of-Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire (Q-LES-Q) and the Pragmatics Profile of Everyday Communication Skills in Adults (Pragmatics Profile). Art therapy session observations were used to gather data and generate themes. Program evaluation interviews were completed by the participants, guardians, and direct support staff to see if there were any changes in the participants’ level of functioning in self-expression, communication, social functioning, and quality of life. The results indicated four overarching themes and seven subthemes, which included the following: (a) self-expression with the subtheme of abstract art, representational art, and childhood, (b) communication with the subthemes of emotions, (c) social functioning with the subthemes of family and staff, and (d) quality of life with the subtheme of personal agency. While there were limited changes in the participants from joining in the art therapy group. The participants, guardians, and direct support staff reported improvements in the individuals with IDD's social functioning and quality of life.