S20: The State of the Art and Science in Creative Arts Therapies - with a Focus on Treatment of Trauma

Jeremy Nobel1, Marcia Rosal2, Sherry Goodill3, Stephen Snow4, Bryan Hunter56

1Harvard University, USA; 2Florida State University, USA; 3Drexel University, USA; 4Concordia University, Canada; 5Nazareth College, USA


The creative arts are putative, inherent aspects of our human social being. Application of the arts for therapeutic outcomes is well established among the creative arts therapies professions and encompasses over 60 years of clinical practice and research in the USA. These highly skilled, credentialed professionals use arts modalities and creative processes during intentional intervention in therapeutic, rehabilitative, medical, community, and educational settings. This panel will begin with a state of the art review of current research and the goals and issues of ongoing research by moderator, Jeremy Nobel.  Then distinguished clinician/scholars from four creative arts therapy disciplines (art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, and music therapy) will present discipline-specific research focused on treatment of trauma. Panelists will offer a coordinated presentation highlighting underlying paradigms of the creative arts therapies and emerging trends in evidence-informed practice. Selected applications of creative arts therapies, including those in the context of academic health centers and IM will be illustrated. Research in art therapy has its roots at the National Institute for Mental Health where Wadeson and colleagues conducted numerous studies in the 1960s and 1970s. Current research is focused on studying therapeutic outcomes to identify best practices for art therapists with various populations and settings including research in medical art therapy practice. Dance/movement therapy (DMT) research includes studies on psychosocial assessment through analysis of dynamic movement parameters, and studies on the efficacy of DMT in clinical and community contexts. Key outcome variables and other considerations for DMT research will be identified. Drama therapy has been especially effective in working with at-risk youth.  Significant outcome research in drama therapy for adults with developmental disabilities and the use of role-playing as an assessment to differentiate individuals with paranoid versus non-paranoid schizophrenia are two examples of evidence-based research in the field. Music therapy has a longstanding research record focused on diverse patient groups in both psychosocial/community and medical/rehabilitation settings. Clinical outcome research has demonstrated both statistically significant and substantive effect sizes on clients' psychological, sociological, and physiological health-related functioning. Methodological issues in creative arts therapy research, including the question of standardizing interventions for research purposes, will be discussed.