Arts therapies for depression: Navigating emotional landscapes through research and practice in Scotland.

Ania Zubala

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This presentation explores how arts therapies assist in navigating the emotional landscapes of depression within the cultural context of Scotland. It is based on the author’s research started in 2010 as a PhD project. The impact of depression is growing rapidly and it is predicted that depression will become the second most disabling condition in the world by 2020. With its emotional, cognitive and physical aspects the condition affects the whole person and reaches beyond the individual, impacting on families and the whole communities. Author’s doctoral research has confirmed that depression is an extremely common condition among clients and patients of arts therapists in the UK. Still, not much is known on how arts therapists address depression in their practice: what tools, approaches, and therapeutic techniques they consider helpful. This research initiated the description of arts therapies practice with depression. It has also posed a question on effectiveness of these interventions by offering a comprehensive evaluation of an art therapy group for adults experiencing depression. The findings were encouraging since the group members seemed to have valued the experience and their insights enrich the understanding of arts therapies’ role in the treatment of depression. Most importantly, the therapy process was observed and carefully examined to identify therapeutic factors particularly relevant to depression. An innovative method of data collection allowed for an in-depth exploration of the therapeutic process and identification of events/moments when psychological change occurred and progress in the group was made. The current paper explores the nature of depression as revealed in this art therapy group and guides through its complex landscape formed by the two tensions: the tendency to withdraw/isolate, and the need to relate/connect. How these tensions emerge in a therapy session and how arts therapies may transform the energy for the benefit of clients is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2015
Event13th European Arts Therapies Conference (ECArTE) - Palermo, Italy
Duration: 16 Sept 201519 Sept 2015


Conference13th European Arts Therapies Conference (ECArTE)


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