A Pilot RCT of Psychodynamic Group Art Therapy for Patients in Acute Psychotic Episodes: Feasibility, Impact on Symptoms and Mentalising Capacity

Montag, Christiane; Haase, Laura; Seidel, Dorothea; Bayerl, Martin; Gallinat, J├╝rgen; Herrmann, Uwe; Dannecker, Karin
November 2014
PLoS ONE;Nov2014, Vol. 9 Issue 11, p1
Academic Journal
: This pilot study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of an assessor-blind, randomised controlled trial of psychodynamic art therapy for the treatment of patients with schizophrenia, and to generate preliminary data on the efficacy of this intervention during acute psychotic episodes. Fifty-eight inpatients with DSM-diagnoses of schizophrenia were randomised to either 12 twice-weekly sessions of psychodynamic group art therapy plus treatment as usual or to standard treatment alone. Primary outcome criteria were positive and negative psychotic and depressive symptoms as well as global assessment of functioning. Secondary outcomes were mentalising function, estimated with the Reading the mind in the eyes test and the Levels of emotional awareness scale, self-efficacy, locus of control, quality of life and satisfaction with care. Assessments were made at baseline, at post-treatment and at 12 weeks' follow-up. At 12 weeks, 55% of patients randomised to art therapy, and 66% of patients receiving treatment as usual were examined. In the per-protocol sample, art therapy was associated with a significantly greater mean reduction of positive symptoms and improved psychosocial functioning at post-treatment and follow-up, and with a greater mean reduction of negative symptoms at follow-up compared to standard treatment. The significant reduction of positive symptoms at post-treatment was maintained in an attempted intention-to-treat analysis. There were no group differences regarding depressive symptoms. Of secondary outcome parameters, patients in the art therapy group showed a significant improvement in levels of emotional awareness, and particularly in their ability to reflect about others' emotional mental states. This is one of the first randomised controlled trials on psychodynamic group art therapy for patients with acute psychotic episodes receiving hospital treatment. Results prove the feasibility of trials on art therapy during acute psychotic episodes and justify further research to substantiate preliminary positive results regarding symptom reduction and the recovery of mentalising function. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov


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