The Effectiveness of Art Therapy in Decreasing Depressive Symptomology: A Meta-Analysis

Date of Award


Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Ragnar Storaasli

First Committee Member

Hale Martin

Second Committee Member

Alexander Baker


Art therapy; Quantitative Research; Assessment; Depressive symptoms; Depression; Meta-analysis; Art in therapy


Art therapy is an increasingly popular treatment modality with various mental health professionals; however, despite its increasing popularity and utilization, the field suffers from a continued lack of empirically validated studies that demonstrate its effectiveness. Thus, this study performed a meta-analysis on studies that utilized therapeutic art interventions with depressive symptoms in order to produce an overall effect size (ES) regarding the effectiveness of art therapy on depression. Additionally, this study attempted to determine moderating factors that might influence the magnitude of the ES. The present meta-analysis included 18 published and unpublished studies that produced a significant (p=0.001) ES of -1.10 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) of -1.64 to -0.56), thus demonstrating that art therapy has a large effect on the reduction of depression-related symptoms in participants. The results of this analysis are comparable to other meta-analyses of psychotherapeutic treatments for depression (Mazzucchelli, Kane, & Rees, 2009; Gloaguen, Cottraux, Cucherat, & Blackburn, 1998; Cuijper, van Straten, Andersson, & van Oppen, 2008). This study also covers clinically relevant issues regarding treating depression with art therapy and makes recommendations for further research.


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


33 pages

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