Health Benefits of the Arts for the Mentally Disabled/Mental Health

Among the many health benefits and outcomes of art therapies for mental health and those patients who are mentally disabled are less anxiety, decreased depression, more favorable coping skills, better social skills, more positive self-awareness, and a deeper understanding of psychological states.

Dance:

Re-Inhabiting One’s Body: A Pilot Study on the Effects of Dance Movement Therapy on Body Image and Alexithymia in Eating Disorders

A 2020 pilot study published in the Journal of Eating Disorders evaluated the effects of a Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) intervention on body image and alexithymia in patients with eating disorders. They found that participants of the DMT group significantly improved in Body Areas Satisfaction and Appearance Evaluation, and they decreased significantly in Appearance Orientation and a decrease in Overweight Preoccupation was also observed. DMT participants also reported improvements in their mood states and an increase in their self-awareness.

Full Article/Study

Embodied Self in Trauma and Self-Harm: A Pilot Study of Effects of Flamenco Therapy on Traumatized Inpatients

In 2019, researchers in Germany conducted a study with trauma survivors and the impact flamenco dance therapy would have on their mental health. Their results suggest a significant improvement of well-being, improvement of experienced health level, and improvement of experienced physical pain after flamenco therapy by the experimental group compared to the control group.

Abstract

Effects of Dance Movement Therapy and Dance on Health-Related Psychological Outcomes

A 2019 study by Dr. Sabine Koch from the University of Heidelberg showed that dance movement therapy decreases depression and anxiety and increases quality of life and interpersonal and cognitive skills, and dance intervention increases motor skills. Follow-up data showed that on 22 weeks after the intervention, most effects remained stable or slightly increased.

Full Article/Study

Dance/Movement Therapy and Emotional Well-Being for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

A 2016 conducted by researchers in Spain showed that dance and movement therapy (D/MT) indicated statistically significant improvements in the emotional well-being in the intervention group after the D/MT program in comparison to the control group.

Abstract

Effectiveness of a Combined Dance and Relaxation Intervention on Reducing Anxiety and Depression and Improving Quality of Life Among the Cognitively Impaired Elderly

Researchers from the School of Rehabilitation Science in Malaysia conducted a study in 2016 which found that dance as a form of participation-based physical exercise was found to reduce anxiety and depression levels and improve quality of life and cognitive function among a studied sample of cognitively impaired elderly subjects.

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Full Article/Study

Music/Singing:

Development of an Improvisational Music Therapy Intervention for Young Adults with Depressive Symptoms

Researchers in The Netherlands conducted a study in 2019 to develop an improvisational music therapy intervention based on insights from theory, evidence and clinical practice for young adults with depressive symptoms. Their work showed that this therapy helped improve emotion regulation and reduced depressive symptoms.

Abstract

Effect of Singing Interventions on Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

A 2018 study done by Drs. D. Fancourt and R. Perkins explored the impact of a 10-week community singing program for mothers experiencing postnatal depression (PND). They found that the singing group equated to an average 35% decrease in depressive symptoms across the first six weeks. This decrease in the singing group extended to 40% by week 10.

Abstract

Music Therapy for Coping Self-Efficacy in an Acute Mental Health Setting

In 2018, Dr. Michael Silverman from the University of Minnesota School of Music completed a study to determine if educational music therapy can influence coping self-efficacy in acute care mental health inpatients. His results showed that patients under music therapy conditions tended to have more favorable coping self-efficacy means than the control group.

Abstract

Full Article/Study

Group Music Therapy as a Preventive Intervention for Young People at Risk

In 2017, researchers in Australia conducted a study to examine whether group music therapy (GMT) is an effective intervention for young people who may be at risk for developing mental health problems. They found that the participants showed improvement in healthy use of music over time.

Abstract

Full Article/Study

The Influence of Music Therapy on Prosocial Behaviors of Adults with Disabilities

Drs. Haley Baumgarten and Barbara Wheeler conducted a study in 2016 to investigate the use of music therapy to increase three specific prosocial behaviors in adults with disabilities: initiating a conversation, participating in reciprocal exchanges and expressing emotions. They found that participants who engaged in music therapy demonstrated an increase in these behaviors, suggesting that participation in music therapy increased social skill development in adults with disabilities.

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Full Article/Study

Theater:

Arts, Mental Distress, Mental Health Functioning & Life Satisfaction

A 2020 study done by researchers at the University of Singapore showed that, after controlling for all time-constant variables, frequent arts participation and cultural attendance were associated with lower levels of mental distress, higher levels of life satisfaction and could protect against mental distress.

Abstract

Drama Therapy Counseling as Mental Health Care of College Students

Researchers from several universities in Taiwan conducted a study in 2019 whose results revealed that drama therapy (i.e., theatre games, role-playing, storytelling or creative and expressive artistic activities) could deliver significantly positive effects for and improve the six mental health indicators (self-awareness, self-expression, interpersonal and communication skills, self-cognitive reconstruction ability, social role ability, and decision-making ability) of the participants.

Full Article/Study

Therapeutic Theatre: An Experience from a Mental Health Clinic in Cameroon

In 2017, researchers in Cameroon studied the effects of using acting as therapy for personal and social development. The results indicate that personal and social change can be facilitated in some mental health patients through the medium of therapeutic theatre. Participants attained deeper understanding of their psychological states and developed coping mechanisms and re-adaptation of skills vis-à-vis depression, anxiety and stress.

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Full Article/Study

Transforming Identity Through Participation in Music and Theatre: Exploring Narratives of People with Mental Health Problems

In 2017, researchers from Norway and the United Kingdom explored how participation in a music and theatre workshop can help people with mental health problems. Their findings showed that participation in these workshops transformed the participants’ experiences of identity on two levels: individually and collectively. The participants developed a broader picture of themselves through their creative work with others.

Full Article/Study

Life Crossroads on Stage: Integrating Life Review and Drama Therapy for Older Adults

Dr. Shoshi Keisari and Yuval Palgi from Haifa, Israel conducted a study in 2016 to examine the influence of drama therapy intervention on key indicators of mental health and psychological well-being among older adults. Their results showed a significant improvement in the experimental group, including self-acceptance, relationships with others, senses of meaning in life, and depressive symptoms.

Abstract

Visual Arts:

Randomized Controlled Trial of Adult Therapeutic Coloring for the Management of Significant Anxiety in the Emergency Department

Researchers in Australia set out to examine the effectiveness of adult coloring books using a randomized trial at a university-affiliated emergency department (ED) in 2020. Among the ED patients, exposure to adult coloring books resulted in lower self-reported levels of anxiety at 2 hours compared to the placebo group.  

Abstract

Full Article/Study

The Effects of Coloring on Anxiety, Mood and Perseverance

In 2017 researchers conducted a study to test whether the structure of a coloring task had an effect on anxiety, mood and perseverance. Results showed positive effects of free-choice coloring vs. forced choice, with greater anxiety reduction and evidence of higher perseverance in the free-choice coloring group.

Abstract

Therapeutic Alliance Is a Factor of Change in Arts Therapies and Psychomotor Therapy with Adults Who Have Mental Health Problems

In 2017, researchers from The Netherlands found that art therapies demonstrated positive therapeutic alliance, including higher decreases in depressive symptoms in early phase of therapy and greater decreases in anxiety symptoms in later phases.

Abstract

Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making

Results from a study done in 2016 showed that art making led to statistically significant lowering of cortisol levels – a proxy measure for the experience of stress in humans.  

Full Article/Study

House-Tree-Person Drawing Therapy as an Intervention for Prisoners’ Prerelease Anxiety

In 2016, researchers examined the feasibility of using the House-Tree-Person test as an intervention to reduce prisoners’ prerelease anxiety. They found that the total Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale and standard Self-Rating Anxiety Scale scores were both significantly lower for the experimental group when compared to their pre-therapy scores.  

Abstract

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