Art therapy-based groups for work-related stress with staff in health and social care: an exploratory study

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Huet, V. ; Holttum, S. (2016)

Numerous approaches have been developed to address work-related stress (work-stress) but evidence of their efficacy is sparse. This is also the case for art therapy-based approaches, whose processes are also poorly explicated and understood. This study therefore attempted an initial exploration of the potential therapeutic mechanisms within art therapy-based groups for work-stress with staff in health and social care.\ud \ud Data were gathered from staff at four health and social care sites (N = 20) in an exploratory embedded multiple case study design. The process involved art-viewing and art-making in small groups.\ud \ud Art-viewing supported relational processes, expression of emotionality and playfulness, in turn facilitating therapeutic engagement. Art-making, often initially experienced as intimidating, was reported as revealing true emotions linked to work-stress issues, which for some participants led to action to alleviate their impact.\ud \ud This study suggests that art-viewing, hitherto a neglected component of art therapy, may be important for that practice or practices based on it. The study also suggests a greater potential for art therapy-based to be used as an approach to address work-stress in health and social care.
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