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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.

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Visual Arts


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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.


Music-Based Casual Video Game Training Alleviates Symptoms of Subthreshold Depression

Researchers in China in 2022 conducted a study to investigate the beneficial effects of music-based video game training on the depression, anxiety and stress symptoms of young individuals. Their results showed that depression, anxiety and stress symptoms were significantly reduced after 4 weeks of music-based training.

The Effect of Classical Music on Heart Rate, Blood Pressure and Mood

In 2022, researchers expanded on prior studies looking at the effect of music on heart rate, blood pressure and mood utilizing two classical pieces, “ Symphony of Fate” by Beethoven and “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven. Their results suggest that classical music has a positive impact on the cardiovascular system. Music also affects other parts of the brain, which in turn affects the mood through the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Finally, they found listening to music may be a potential therapeutic method for reducing anxiety and depression.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Attending Live Theatre Improves Empathy, Changes Attitudes and Leads to Pro-Social Behavior

In 2021, Researchers examined whether attending live theatre improves empathy by immersing audience members in the stories of others. After seeing the plays, people reported greater empathy for groups depicted in the shows, held opinions that were more consistent with socio-political issues highlighted in the shows, and donated more money to charities related to the shows, as well as charities unrelated to the shows. Altogether, these findings suggest that theatre is more than mere entertainment; it can lead to tangible increases in empathy and pro-social behavior.

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.

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.

Shall I Compare Thee…to a Robot? An Exploratory Pilot Study Using Participatory Arts and Social Robotics to Improve Psychological Well-Being

In 2019, an interdisciplinary team designed an intervention integrating theatre and social robotics with the aim of improving the psychological well-being of study participants both with and without cognitive impairment who live in a residential care setting. Their analysis showed the depression, loneliness and face scores had significantly decreased among the participants.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts
The Effects of Art Therapy on Anxiety and Distress for Korean-Ukrainian Refugees

The results of a 2022 study on the impact of art therapy for Ukrainian refugees staying in Korea due to the wartime emergency were released and suggested that the intervention of art therapy as immediate mental healthcare for refugees facing war could benefit mental health.

Art Therapy with Grieving Children: Effect on Affect in the Dual-Process Model

In 2020, a study was conducted to evaluate changes in positive and negative affect of 13 grieving children after six sessions of art therapy. The results showed that art therapy can assist the bereaved because of its ability to promote exploration and expression of feelings that occurs in the grieving process.

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. 

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.

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.

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