Reynolds (2012) Art Therapy After Stroke: Evidence and a Need for Further Research

literature type:

journal article


Frances Reynolds. The Arts in Psychotherapy. 2012; Vol. 39, No. 4: pp 239–244.


This review presents available evidence regarding the benefits of art therapy and therapeutic arts interventions for stroke survivors. Whilst available evidence is very limited, it suggests that art therapy may address many of the diverse cognitive, emotional and functional needs of people disabled by stroke. Attention, spatial processing, sequencing and planning seem to improve among those who persist with art therapy. Use of the stroke-affected limb may increase. Several studies report improvements in social interaction, and emotional expression. Most published reports offer single case examples, which are idiographic and illuminating. Nonetheless, the brevity of these reports, the reliance on therapist's own accounts, and uncertainties surrounding case selection make generalization of the findings uncertain. There is a pressing need for multi-method research studies. These could use quantitative standardized scales to explore changes in stroke survivors’ physical and emotional functioning, and qualitative enquiry to gain the insights of stroke survivors concerning the art therapy process. Such research designs might help to establish a better recognized role for art therapy within multidisciplinary stroke rehabilitation programs.


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