Art Therapy. Prevention Against the Development of Depression

Vibeke Skov

Research output: PhD thesis

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The aim in this research study was to focus on art therapy as a method to explore the inner life as prevention against the development of depression and to address the possibility for art therapy to be used as an early intervention tool related to depression.
A Jungian epistemology was used as a frame for the overall understanding of well-being together with a holistic approach, including the biological, psychological, social and spiritual domains in life. Art therapy processes in the clinical part of the study aimed to include all these levels as the activation of these are considered to support therapeutic change.
A systematic literature review was carried out, and an integrative theoretical approach was used, which included evolutionary psychology, neuropsychology, analytical psychology, transformative learning and anthropology.
I chose to use a bricolage methodology, consisting of (a) a phenomenological approach with a focus on the inner development of the participant, (b) a hermeneutic approach with a focus on the relationship between participant and researcher/ therapist and (c) a heuristic approach with a focus on the inner development of the researcher/ therapist.
The study was carried out as a mixed-methods design, with the quantitative part imbedded in the qualitative part.
Seven participants were chosen to participate in an art therapy group during a 6-month intervention with a total of 13 meetings. The inclusion criteria were identification of mild to moderate depression based on the test results from the WHOQoL-Bref and Depression MDI using the rating scale.
The data collection consists of test results from questionnaires for pre, post, follow-up 1and follow-up 2 tests, video recordings of all workshops, video transcription of therapeutic dialogues, dreams, artwork and participants self-evaluative reports.
The analytical procedure was based on Jung´s typology and related to sensation, feeling, thinking and intuition. The four psychological functions were used as different ways to relate to the data, which gradually narrowed the data down into core findings related to (a) the therapeutic processes, (b) theory and (c) art therapy method.
From the findings it appeared, that confronting the unconscious through the use of symbols and active imagination increased the ego-self connection within the participants.
Compensative processes were found to stimulate well-being as well, but the general feedback from the participants were, that the creative activity and the therapeutic dialogues were equally important for the therapeutic outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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