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!)