The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below. Abuse (treatment of abusive parents), anorexia nervosa, anxiety, autism, body image problems, brain damage, breast cancer, bulimia nervosa, child abuse, chronic trauma, cognition disorders, coping skills (with death or homelessness), depression, emotional disorders (inability to experience pleasure), end stage renal disease, frailty in the elderly, family violence, HIV, marital therapy, mental disorders (treatment and prevention), mental retardation, neurological problems, obesity, pregnancy support (post-abortion), premature labor prevention, rape victim therapy, rehabilitation, sex therapy, sexual abuse, stroke, substance abuse, surgery (preparation and recovery), tuberculosis.
Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
The main safety issue in art therapy is the possibility that it may evoke distressing thoughts or feelings. For this reason, art therapy should be used under the guidance of a qualified art therapist or other mental health professional.
A minor though possible concern in art therapy involves the use of potentially harmful materials. There have been reported cases of lead poisoning from use of lead ceramic glaze used during art therapy classes. Only materials known to be safe should be used.
Related clean-up materials (e.g., turpentine or mineral spirits) that release potentially toxic fumes should only be used with adequate ventilation.
This information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): William Collinge, PhD, MPH (Collinge & Associates); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Nicole Giese, MS (Boston University); Jacquelyn Guilford, PhD, MBA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Dana A. Hackman, BS (Northeastern University); Kristopher Swinney, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Isabell Syelsky, PharmD (Northeastern University); Brian Szczechowski, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Chris Tonelli, MA (Emmanuel College); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Jen Woods, BS (Northeastern University).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Avrahami D. Visual art therapy's unique contribution in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders. J Trauma Dissociation 2005;6(4):5-38.
Broome ME, Maikler V, Kelber S, et al. An intervention to increase coping and reduce health care utilization for school-age children and adolescents with sickle cell disease. J Natl Black Nurses Assoc 2001;12(2):6-14.
Fassino S, Ferrero A. [Art therapy and chronic schizophrenia. Reflections on various aspects of social feelings and the creative self]. Minerva Psichiatr 1992;33(1):73-77.
Feldman PC, Villanueva S, Lanne V, et al. Use of play with clay to treat children with intractable encopresis. J Pediatr 1993;122(3):483-488.
Gabriel B, Bromberg E, Vandenbovenkamp J, et al. Art therapy with adult bone marrow transplant patients in isolation: a pilot study. Psychooncology 2001;10(2):114-123.
Nainis N, Paice JA, Ratner J, et al. Relieving symptoms in cancer: innovative use of art therapy. J Pain Symptom Manage 2006 Feb;31(2):162-9.
Ranmal R, Prictor M, Scott JT. Interventions for improving communication with children and adolescents about their cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008 Oct 8;(4):CD002969.
Rousseau C, Drapeau A, Lacroix L, et al. Evaluation of a classroom program of creative expression workshops for refugee and immigrant children. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2005;46(2):180-185.
Ruddy R, Milnes D. Art therapy for schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like illnesses. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005 Oct 19;(4):CD003728.
Schreier H, Ladakakos C, Morabito D, et al. Posttraumatic stress symptoms in children after mild to moderate pediatric trauma: a longitudinal examination of symptom prevalence, correlates, and parent-child symptom reporting. J Trauma 2005;58(2):353-363.
Schut HA, de Keijser J, van den BJ, et al. Cross-modality grief therapy: description and assessment of a new program. J Clin Psychol 1996;52(3):357-365.
Walsh SM. Future images: an art intervention with suicidal adolescents. Appl Nurs Res 1993;6(3):111-118.
Walsh SM, Martin SC, Schmidt LA. Testing the efficacy of a creative-arts intervention with family caregivers of patients with cancer. J Nurs Scholarsh 2004;36(3):214-219.
Wethington HR, Hahn RA, Fuqua-Whitley DS, et al. The effectiveness of interventions to reduce psychological harm from traumatic events among children and adolescents: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med 2008 Sep;35(3):287-313.
Wikstrom, BM. A picture of a work of art as an empathy teaching strategy in nurse education complementary to theoretical knowledge. J Prof Nurs 2003;19(1):49-54.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children,
never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.