Art Therapy in the Postmodern World: Findings from a Comparative Study across the UK, Russia, and Latvia

Vicky Karkou, K Martinsone, N Nazarova, I Vaverniece

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This is a comparative study of the development of art therapy in the UK, Russia and Latvia. The study is triggered by the belief that important learning can take place from fostering shared understanding and respecting differences across practices within a postmodern world that bears the danger of fragmentation and the loss of professional identity. Following a discussion of key postmodern ideas within art and arts therapies and historical references to the development of art therapy in the three countries studied, this paper provides an opportunity for empirically-based comparisons of practice. In particular, a questionnaire, originally developed by Karkou (1998), was disseminated to all practicing art therapists in the UK, Russian and Latvian specialists using art and art therapy methods, Russian graduates and Latvian students of the first training program in art therapy (Nazarova, 2008; Martinsone, 2009). Collected information relating to work environments, client groups and therapeutic trends were statistically analyzed in order to identify differences across countries. Mutual interactions and ‘cultural borrowing’ were also found and discussed primarily with regard to therapeutic trends. Despite methodological limitations, the study opens the way for future collaborations on the basis of informed understanding of art therapy practices across countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-95
JournalThe Arts in Psychotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Art therapy
  • Comparative study
  • Postmodernism
  • Cultural differences
  • Work environments
  • Client groups
  • Therapeutic trends


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