Art Therapy Not Effective at Treating Schizophrenia

Current national guidelines recommend that all patients with schizophrenia be considered for group art therapy. According to results published on BMJ.com, however, that may be unnecessary and unhelpful.

Because of its complex and multifaceted presentation, schizophrenia is difficult to completely treat with pharmaceuticals alone. Anti-psychotic medications have become increasingly effective in the past decade, but doctors still routinely supplement them with alternative therapies. Art therapy, where people are encouraged to use a variety of materials and media to express themselves, in one such therapy.

In the BMJ study, 417 patients with schizophrenia diagnoses were placed in one of three groups. The first received 12 months of weekly art therapy, the second received 12 months of weekly activity groups (playing games, watching DVDs, etc.), and the third received standard care alone.

Measuring daily functioning, social functioning, mental symptoms, and happiness with care, researchers found no significant difference between any of the three groups. Furthermore, they found attendance at the art and activity groups to be low. While they admit art therapy might be effective for a "highly-motivated" minority, they found no reason to recommend it as a general option for most patients.

Music and body movement therapies might hold greater promise, and any activity's effectiveness might change based on other combinations of supplemental treatments. Additionally, while art therapy has limited clinical benefit, it can still successfully treat the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

Source: MedicalNewToday.com

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