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:

Dance Movement Therapy for Depressed Clients: Profiles of the Level and Changes in Depression

Researchers in Finland during 2022 investigated changes in depression among working age (18–64-year-olds) adults diagnosed with depression who participated in a 20-session dance movement therapy (DMT) intervention. They found that all participants benefited from the DMT intervention. Symptoms of those suffering from mild depression decreased to the level of no depression and those with severe depression saw their symptoms reduced to the level of moderate depression.  

Full Article/Study

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

The Effects of Dance Movement in the Treatment of Depression: A Multicenter, Randomized Controlled Trial

In 2020, a group of researchers compared treating patients diagnosed with depression in the usual methods, and also by adding dance movement therapy (DMT) to a subgroup of patients. Their results found that adding DMT may improve the effectiveness of standard care.

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

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 emotional regulation and reduced depressive symptoms.

Abstract

The Effects of the Music-With-Movement Intervention on the Cognitive Functions of People with Moderate Dementia

Researchers in Hong Kong conducted a study in 2018 that aimed to examine the effects of a six-week music-with-movement (MM) intervention on the cognitive functions of people with moderate dementia. They found improvements in memory and depressive symptoms and concluded that MM intervention may be useful for enhancing the cognitive functions of people with dementia.

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

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

Theater:

A Pilot Remote Drama Therapy Program Using the Co-active Therapeutic Theater Model in People with Serious Mental Illness

Researchers from UMass Memorial Health published in 2022 the results of their study detailing the results of their pilot remote drama therapy program for community members living with serious mental illness. Participants with serious mental illness completed a 12-week drama therapy program which included an online performance. They concluded that drama therapy presents an opportunity for individuals with serious mental illness to process and share their journeys with their diagnoses and re-create a healthy sense of self with increased community awareness.

Full Article/Study

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

Effects of Drama Therapy on Depressive Symptoms, Attention and Quality of Life in Patients with Dementia

The aim of a 2020 study done in Taiwan was to examine the effects of drama therapy in terms of improving depressive symptoms, attention and quality of life in patients with dementia. The study results showed that after both 8 and 12 weeks of drama therapy, the experimental group showed a significant improvement in depressive symptoms.

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.

Abstract

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

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

A Four-Drawing Art Therapy Trauma and Resiliency Protocol Study

A group of California researchers conducted a pilot study in 2018 to investigate the potential effectiveness of a four-drawing art therapy trauma and resiliency protocol for coping with adverse life events. The results showed a decrease in overall effects of the traumatic event and a positive impact on participants’ understanding and meaning-making of the traumatic event.

Abstract

Efficacy of Art Therapy in Individuals with Personality Disorders Cluster

A 2018 study evaluated the effects of an art therapy intervention on psychological functioning of patients with personality disorders. The results show that art therapy is an effective treatment for PD patients because it not only reduces PD pathology and maladaptive modes, but it also helps patients to develop adaptive, positive modes that indicate better mental health and self-regulation.

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

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