S2 - Solutions in Art Therapy: Toward a Visual Outcome Measure

Abstract for TAoAT 2002 by Nadija Corcos

I propose to describe the origins of a pilot study for an art based outcome measure, and report my findings. While I am designing this measure specifically for my practice, my considerations and experiences during this process might interest and encourage others to create measures which can sit comfortably within their own practices. 

My particular goal is to create a visual outcome measure which:

  • Is consonant with my theory of how art therapy effects therapeutic change.
  • Can be integrated into sessions without interrupting the art therapy process.
  • Is sufficiently reliable in measuring improvements in mental state and functioning to justify the effort involved.  

Last year I was introduced to the recent work of brief therapist Scott Miller, incorporating both outcome and process measures into his therapeutic routine. As a verbal therapist he has adopted a short, standardized questionnaire to help him evaluate the effectiveness (outcome) of the previous session, which is administered at the start of a session. (Miller uses another questionnaire at the end of each session, which evaluates the client's perception of the therapeutic process within the session. I am choosing to consider the issue of monitoring process separately, as art making in the art therapy process seems to me to deserve attention in its own right.) Miller describes direct therapeutic benefits, as well as evidence about the effectiveness of his interventions, from this change in his practice, and I became interested in integrating the concept of routinely monitoring outcome into my own art therapy sessions.

More recently, I encountered the Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale devised by Gantt and Tabone, in the United States. The Scale is an example of a standardized visual measure of mental state. Some of the elements rated in the scale seemed to me to suggest possibilities for rating less standardized art productions within a therapeutic setting, for the primary purpose of comparison from one session to the next.

Combining concepts from the work of Miller, Gantt and Tabone, with a solution focused intervention: 'picture your future' I have arrived at an intervention which I plan to use and evaluate using a standardized verbal outcome measure for comparison. This presentation will include a report on my trials (and perhaps tribulations) with that measure.

Key ideas:
Outcome measures, evidence of therapeutic effectiveness, art based measure.

Client Group:
Adult Mental Health  

Biography of Nadija Corcos

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