School-based art therapy in the UK is helping troubled kids get back on track, a new study suggests. Reuters Health reports that begun in 2002, The Art Room programme is aimed at children between the ages of 5 and 16 who have been identified by their teachers as needing emotional and behavioural support.
In the study, researchers found that children emerged from the 10-week Art Room programme with less depression, fewer behavioural problems and improved self esteem.
Melissa Cortina, a consultant research psychologist with The Art Room, based in Oxford said The Art Room works with the children on social skills, education as well as therapy, and practitioners are trained with a unique methodology. The goal of the programme is ultimately to help children and young people re-engage with education.
For the study, Cortina and colleague Mina Fazel of Oxford University analysed questionnaires filled out by 169 students in the programme and their teachers before and after the 2012-2013 school year. Overall that year, more than 1,000 kids from 13 feeder schools attended The Art Room. Based on teacher responses, students improved in all areas. There was a 37% reduction in a topic called Total Difficulties, a 41% reduction in emotional problems, a 15% reduction in conduct problems, a 33% reduction in hyperactivity, a 41% reduction in problems with classmates and a 24% improvement in social behaviour.
On the children’s part, there was a notable drop in depression symptoms. Before the program, 16 students (22%) had been classified as depressed. After the programme, less than 4% qualified as depressed.