Artful healing : exploration of a therapeutic intervention set in the college campus art museum




Cahill Casiano, Iris Anne Xiomara

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College students in the United States are often characterized by their creativity and openness to new experiences, however, for an increasing number of students the prevalence of depressive symptoms pose considerable emotional and psychological challenges. An additional concern for these affected students is that many will face barriers to care, and overburdened college counseling centers currently struggle to meet the growing demand. This study seeks to address the growing need for treatment of depressive symptoms in college students through an innovative intervention that integrates narrative approaches with therapeutic art-viewing to take treatment out of the counseling center and into an alternative space: the college art museum. While some previous research has touched on the healing potential of museum-based interventions, there is limited research exploring its use for treatment of depressive symptomatology with the college student population. This mixed-methods study pilots a five-week group intervention designed to help students re-author negative life-stories using art objects as points of discovery for personal narratives. Participants will be drawn from a convenience sample of students from the University of Texas at Austin. Validated pre- and post-test measures will be collected and data analyzed using paired sample t-tests in order to evaluate improvement in symptom severity. Additional qualitative data gathered over the course of treatment and in the exit interview will be explored for relevant themes using phenomenological methodology


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