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  • Public defence: 2018-01-26 13:30 Bertlingsalen, hus J (Visionen), Halmstad
    Holmqvist, Gärd
    Halmstad University, School of Health and Welfare, Centre of Research on Welfare, Health and Sport (CVHI).
    Bildterapi – en väg till inre förändring och förbättrad hälsa2018Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The overall aim of the dissertation was to investigate the ability of art therapy to contribute to inner change and improved health in the individual. Inner change refers to a structural and lasting change that occurs on a psychologically deeper level, as opposed to an external and more temporary change. Art therapy treatment is based on a combination of image creation and a different degree of reflective, processing dialogue. Art therapy is distinguished from other verbal therapies by a triangular relationship, patient – image – art therapist.

    The thesis design was primarily qualitative, except for study I, which was a review. Study I involved examination of studies of art therapy for three different patient groups. A quality assessment was carried out using two different evidence systems. In study II, interviews were carried out with women about their experiences of inner change and whether these were exhibited in selected painted images. The interviews were analysed using deductive and inductive content analysis. In study III, two open questions were sent to art therapists about what they perceived as an inner change in the patient. Data was analysed using thematic analysis. Study IV entailed a secondary analysis of the interviews from study II. Based on a theoretical perspective, the occurrence of vitality affects and basic affects and their importance for inner change were investigated. A deductive content analysis was conducted.

    This thesis describes inner change and improved health from three different perspectives: a group of female patients, a group of art therapists and a theoretical perspective. The results show that art therapy can contribute to a lasting inner change that involves identity change, changed behavior and improved health. Women who did not experience an inner change found that art therapy provided support in everyday life. Existential questions about the meaning of life were central to both the women's and the art therapists’ statements. The results show that therapeutic alliance, attachment and the ability to develop a reflective distance to the image is crucial to whether an individual inner change is possible. Furthermore, an exploratory approach and reflective dialogue about the importance of the image is important for an internal change to occur. An art therapeutic process of change contains vitality affects and basic affects. It leads to increased insight and awareness of feelings. It improves self-esteem, increases authenticity and autonomy, and provides widening perspectives.

    The thesis contributes to increased knowledge of inner change and improved health through treatment with art therapy. By showing that inner change occurs, describing what, is experienced and perceived as inner change, and by confirming inner change by theories, the thesis may demystify the myth of artistry that often surrounds art therapy and make it clearer. The thesis may contribute to improved communication between art therapists and caregivers with regard to the method’s possibilities and limitations. Caregivers can therefore consider using art therapy as a complement or as an alternative to other treatments.