Foster Care Youth Who Have Experienced Childhood Trauma Benefit More From Expressive Art Therapy Than Foster Care Youth Who Only Participate in Traditional Counseling
According to the 2016 Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), some circumstances where a child or adolescent is pulled out of a home and placed into the system include neglect, physical, and sexual abuse.
There has been much philosophical and anecdotal discussion about the benefits of art and healing, but less empirical research exists in the literature. In fact, although arts therapy has been used clinically for more than a century and has been recognized as a profession since 1991, much of the published work is theoretical in nature, with little discussion of specific outcomes. Only in recent years have systematic and controlled studies examined the therapeutic effects and benefits of the arts and healing. Nevertheless, we have seen positive outcomes for the potential of using art to promote healing in our 4 primary areas of focus. This article is not meant to be a comprehensive review of all of the literature available (other authors have provided comprehensive overviews in areas such as music therapy and expressive writing). Instead, it represents a sampling of the many potential benefits of art in enhancing health and wellness. With respect to research methodology, the qualitative data focused on the meaning-making process of the arts and healing, and examples were provided of how art-based programs can contribute to wellness. Qualitative studies that report individual and unique results through rich descriptions and data could complement the use of quantitative methods (Monti DA, Peterson C, 2006). Both are needed to understand creative engagement and health effects among generalized populations with unique individual differences.
More documented research with larger and diverse sample sizes is recommended in an effort to validate, strengthen, and obtain the due recognition the field deserves.
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