Theoretical Advances of Art Therapy

TAoAT 2000 conference papers

Developing a Methodology to evaluate outcomes in art therapy

Pauline Mottram

As an introduction to the subject Mottram presented a thorough and concise overview of differing research methodologies within the context of the push for evidence based practice within the NHS .

Mottram went on to outline her presently favoured approaches to evaluation. Prior to starting therapy and at the end of therapy, Mottram asks patients to complete a CORE (Clinical Outcomes Research and Evaluation) standardised questionnaire, supplied by the Mental Health Foundation/Core Systems Group Before and after results can be compared, with the possibility of completing a long term quantitative research project. The questions have been designed to stay within an eight year olds reading ability.

In addition she uses more subjective and individualistic approaches including asking patients to write down a description of their symptoms and looking back over art work produced in sessions with clients, noting their comments. Clients are also asked to choose a particularly significant image. Mottram is looking into ways of making visual records of these, possibly using a digital camera. As with Bennet, she highlighted the usefulness of grounded theory in carrying out a thematic analysis of the therapist's process notes. She also suggested that the HONOS (Health of the Nation Outcomes Study) may be helpful in approaching evaluation.

Her paper had been described in the abstracts as focusing on work with those who have a learning disability and mental health problems. Evaluation approaches are a particularly taxing issue within the learning disability field and it was a disappointment that this area was not, in the event, covered. Comments from the floor led to a small but lively debate on the rights and wrongs of including photographic records of clients work in their notes and of bringing clients art work into multidisciplinary reviews.

Full version of Pauline Mottrams paper


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Index of presenters

Malcolm Learmonth

Dr Paola Luzzatto

Sarah Bennet

Pauline Mottram

Joy Schaverien

Marian Liebmann