More Research! So many studies…

OK. I think I’m in neck deep with medical based studies investigating the efficacy of art therapy.

If you just want a list of TONS of examples (from ADD to grief to traumatic brain injuries)- here is a good PDF list from the American Art Therapy Association. For each study listed there is a section summarizing findings, and additional information on the validity of the study (and the limitations of that study, in some cases). Basically: an overwhelming amount of support for the role art therapy can have in health care.

One thought before I move on and forget it: I found one study particularly interesting in its investigation into the methods used. (#14, summary on page 34). The study is limited, and focuses on young sexual abuse victims specifically and does not address the healthcare community in a greater sense, but the findings could be potentially useful in how the sketchbooks/kits are put together.

“It was found that children produced more formed expressions and creative/design elements and less chaotic discharge and stereotypic art through the art project that involved few instructions and few materials… versus involved, ‘multiple instructions and materials'”

This is something I hadn’t thought about from the standpoint of providing a creative outlet. I assumed that the main need for access to art supplies was driven partly by lack of money and partly by lack of artistic exposure. Basically, according to this preliminary study, less is more. I had originally planned only to provide basic materials anyway- as organizing instruction on such a wide scale is probably much too much of a task for me- but did not realize that this could actually be more beneficial to the receivers. A less structured environment has always helped foster my creativity, and the less instruction I received, the more creative I was (and almost had to be). It does make sense that minimal to no instruction would leave the possibilities as endless as the creator’s imagination.

Then too is the inevitable discussion of costs and donations. Though not necessarily monetary donations, at some point some sort of drawing/writing supplies will be needed to go along with the sketchbooks themselves. This begs the following inevitable questions of “How much can be given?” and “How much is needed?

According to this study, perhaps only the basics. A pencil, a pen, and something with some color (pencils, crayons, or markers). In terms of what you need to express emotions, a writing utensil and access to colors (emotions and colors are strongly tied- just ask anyone who designs ads…) are really all you need. Whether the person receiving the supplies writes, draws, sketches, scribbles, whether what they create is deep and meaningful or simply an exploration of aesthetics, whether the end product is useful or useless- it doesn’t matter. Each person will need something different from their sketchbook.  Just as no two illnesses are identical, and no two sets of treatments are prescribed in the same manner, no two people will use a sketchbook in the same way.

So here’s my question for you- the part where the reader has the chance to help ME out a little ;-D

What would YOU do with a sketchbook, a pencil, a pen, and some crayons? How would you fill the book? 

(In case you haven’t caught the hint yet- I am asking for some comments!!!! THIS IS NOT A RHETORICAL QUESTION PEOPLE!)

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2 thoughts on “More Research! So many studies…

  1. I have a little notebook that I keep around the house and there are always pens lying around so I find myself scribbling every now and then. The other day I actually found a pencil in my room (SCORE!) and had a bit of a doodle. Admittedly I am a pretty pathetic drawer, generally I try and just let my hand do whatever it wants and see what it turns into, the last time I did this I ended up with a Giraffe-like figure that looked as though it had geometric shapes protruding from its body… Poor, poor Giraffe. Occasionally I also write in the notebook.. lyrics, names, feelings.. and I usually spend a bit of time decorating around them or writing them in a certain font.. Self expression? I don’t know? The reason why I started my blog was to help me get out of my head and try to channel some of my creative energy, so to speak. I probably would have written all of my blog ‘thoughts’ in this notebook if I could write as fast as I can type. Also it’s a ‘public’ notebook and my housemate draws crazy things in it as well.
    I think it’s great to connect with our ‘inner child’ in this way, I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever met someone who dislikes colouring (unfortunately as people get older they have less time for it). Maybe this is because colours are universal, but I think it goes deeper than that, I think that feelings are universal and colours offer such a powerful and simple visual representation for us. If a person is really listening to what their body is feeling and if they are able to get in touch with that feeling, you can give it life through colours and shapes and squiggles. It becomes somewhat tangible, you can see it, not just feel it. It’s more real, it’s more alive.. I think this is a great way to deal with negative emotions emotions especially.
    Hope this helps? Sorry I got a bit carried away!

    • Yes it helps! I don’t think you got carried away- but perhaps I am just happy to see someone agreeing with me and that is my ego talking… I was thinking yesterday that most bloggers are like you (and me) in that we are simply using a different form of a “sketchbook” – it just happens to be online. Perhaps I can use this to grab more attention in comming posts… We shall see ;-) hmmmm
      Best wishes (and thanks so much!)!
      <3 Amy

      PS- a giraffe with geometric shapes sounds pretty cool (although maybe I've taken one too many art classes)

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