Art therapy is widely used and effective in the treatment of patients diagnosed with Personality Disorders (PDs). Current psychotherapeutic approaches may benefit from this additional therapy to improve their efficacy. But what is the patient perspective upon this therapy? This study explored perceived benefits of art therapy for patients with PDs to let the valuable perspective of patients be taken into account. Using a quantitative survey study over 3 months (N = 528), GLM repeated measures and overall hierarchical regression analyses showed that the majority of the patients reported quite a lot of benefit from art therapy (mean 3.70 on a 5-point Likert scale), primarily in emotional and social functioning. The improvements are concentrated in specific target goals of which the five highest scoring goals affected were: expression of emotions, improved (more stable/positive) self-image, making own choices/autonomy, recognition of, insight in, and changing of personal patterns of feelings, behaviors and thoughts and dealing with own limitations and/or vulnerability. Patients made it clear that they perceived these target areas as having been affected by art therapy and said so at both moments in time, with a higher score after 3 months. The extent of the perceived benefits is highly dependent for patients on factors such as a non-judgmental attitude on the part of the therapist, feeling that they are taken seriously, being given sufficient freedom of expression but at the same time being offered sufficient structure and an adequate basis. Age, gender, and diagnosis cluster did not predict the magnitude of perceived benefits. Art therapy provides equal advantages to a broad target group, and so this form of therapy can be broadly indicated. The experienced benefits and the increase over time was primarily associated with the degree to which patients perceive that they can give meaningful expression to feelings in their artwork. This provides an indication for the extent of the benefits a person can experience and can also serve as a clear guiding principle for interventions by the art therapist.
- art therapy
- personality disorders cluster B and C
- quantitative survey
- treatment goals
- visual arts