Arts for the Blues – A New Creative Psychological Therapy for Depression - Pilot Workshop Report

Shelly Haslam, Ailsa Parsons, Joanna Omylinska-Thurston, Kerry Nair, Julianne Harlow, Jennifer Lewis, Scott Thurston, Julia Griffin, Linda Dubrow-Marshall, Vicky Karkou

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Introduction: Research over the last decade has identified both strengths and limitations in the use of routinely prescribed psychological therapies for depression. More recently, a focus on creative art therapies, and 'art on prescription' are developing a growing recognition of their potential additional therapeutic mechanisms for depression. Therefore, in an attempt to develop a new therapeutic intervention for depression, this research aligned both the evidence base surrounding the arts on prescription movement, collating these with client-reported helpful factors and preferences for therapeutic interventions. Study design: We developed a framework for a new pluralistic ‘meta-approach’ of therapy for depression, based on an interdisciplinary thematic synthesis of active ingredients, considered specific features implemented in therapy and client reported helpful factors considered to be the broad features or experiences in therapy from both talking therapies and creative approaches. This framework contributed to the development of a pilot workshop entitled; Arts for the Blues – A New Creative Psychological Therapy for Depression. An outline of, and evaluation from, this workshop is presented in this paper. Methods: Workshop participants were recruited via a voluntary workshop taking place at a North West Higher Education Institution Arts and Health conference (N=15). Results: The workshop was evaluated using quantitative measures, with results indicating around a 70% overall satisfaction, followed up with qualitative commentary around areas of good practice and areas for development. These included the positive reflection on the application of creative arts and the multimodal nature of the approach, whilst others reflected on the potential overwhelming nature of utilising multimodal methods for individuals with depression. Conclusion: Overall feedback from the pilot workshop is discussed in relation to prior research, giving credence to the potential for incorporating arts into therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-146
JournalPerspectives in Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date5 Apr 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Apr 2019


  • Creative
  • arts
  • psychological therapies
  • psychotherapy
  • counselling
  • multimodal
  • pluralistic
  • depression


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