Flowing towards freedom with multimodal creative therapy: The healing power of therapeutic arts for ex cult-members

Ailsa Parsons*, Richard Turner, Hailee Ingleton, Linda Dubrow-Marshall, Maria Kaefalogianni, Joanna Omylinska-Thurston, Vicky Karkou, Scott Thurston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Creative arts can play an important role for cult survivors in surviving, transcending and healing from their past realities. Flow – an empowering state of mind-body integration and skilful, intuitive action while engaged in a challenging yet enjoyable task (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997) – may be an important mechanism in arts therapies and may be especially impactful as an experience for cult survivors. Research reporting on arts therapies for cult survivors, Flow in cult survivors, and Flow in arts therapies is currently severely lacking. This study reports on a multimodal creative psychological therapy, Arts for the Blues, piloted as a workshop with a small group of cult survivors. Results obtained from three participants show that they experienced Flow in their creative activities and increased attainment in a self-selected personal goal. Interviews
with two participants reveal important considerations for working with cult survivors, the healing power of the arts, the attainment of Flow states in the process, and the impact of the Arts for the Blues approach. This study is the first of its kind to trial art therapies with ex cult-members, or to document participants’ views on Flow states during an arts therapy approach. Although limited by a small sample size, further research is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101743
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalThe Arts in Psychotherapy
Early online date3 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2021


  • Arts
  • Creative Therapies
  • Flow
  • Cults
  • Pluralistic
  • Multimodal arts
  • Arts for the Blues
  • Pluralistic therapies


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