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Arts for the Blues – a new creative psychological therapy for depression: a pilot workshop report

Haslam, S; Parsons, AS; Omylinska-Thurston, J; Nair, K; Harlow, J; Lewis, J; Thurston, SD; Griffin, J; Dubrow-Marshall, LJ; Karkou, V


S Haslam

K Nair

J Harlow

J Lewis

J Griffin

V Karkou


Introduction: Research over the last decade has identified both strengths and limitations in the use of routinely prescribed psychological therapies for depression. More recently, a focus on creative art therapies, and 'art on prescription' are developing a growing recognition of their potential additional therapeutic mechanisms for depression.

Aim: In an attempt to develop a new therapeutic intervention for depression, this research aligned both the evidence base surrounding the arts on prescription movement, collating these with client-reported helpful factors and preferences for therapeutic interventions.

Methods: We developed a framework for a new pluralistic ‘meta-approach’ of therapy for depression, based on an interdisciplinary thematic synthesis of active ingredients, considered specific features implemented in therapy and client reported helpful factors considered to be the broad features or experiences in therapy from both talking therapies and creative approaches. This framework contributed to the development of a pilot workshop entitled; Arts for the Blues – A New Creative Psychological Therapy for Depression. An outline of, and evaluation from, this workshop is presented in this paper. Workshop participants were recruited via a voluntary workshop taking place at a North West Higher Education Institution Arts and Health conference (N=15).

Results: The workshop was evaluated using quantitative measures, with results indicating around a 70% overall satisfaction, followed up with qualitative commentary around areas of good practice and areas for development. These included the positive reflection on the application of creative arts and the multimodal nature of the approach, whilst others reflected on the potential overwhelming nature of utilising multimodal methods for individuals with depression.

Conclusion: Overall feedback from the pilot workshop is discussed in relation to prior research, giving credence to the potential for incorporating arts into therapy.


Haslam, S., Parsons, A., Omylinska-Thurston, J., Nair, K., Harlow, J., Lewis, J., …Karkou, V. (2019). Arts for the Blues – a new creative psychological therapy for depression: a pilot workshop report. Perspectives in Public Health, 139(3), 137-146.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 2, 2019
Online Publication Date Jan 2, 2019
Publication Date Apr 5, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 10, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 10, 2019
Journal Perspectives in Public Health
Print ISSN 1757-9139
Electronic ISSN 1757-9147
Publisher SAGE Publications
Volume 139
Issue 3
Pages 137-146
Publisher URL
Related Public URLs
Additional Information Projects : ‘Dancing the blues: An interdisciplinary collaboration between therapists and artists for dissemination and innovation in the treatment of depression’.


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