Art Therapy Creative Manuals

This article examines if it is possible to make creative manuals that reflect rather than prescribe the art therapy practice. Manuals can be both useful and restrictive. The British Association of Art Therapists (BAAT) created a protocol for establishing BAAT-approved guidelines. This article looks at a brief review of the literature as well as descriptions and guidelines to improve treatment. Topics that this article covers include: art therapy, creativity, flexibility, research, and manuals. First creativity is typically seen as something that cannot be given. A concern for art therapists is prescribing a set of firm instructions. Yet, the effectiveness of art therapy must also be demonstrated.

Randomized control trials (RCTs) is one type of research used to showcase evidence for art therapy. The development of manuals allow for easier evaluation of effectiveness of treatment. A manual should be a “clinically rich guide, not a total prescription” (2). In addition, the procedure should be outlined enough so that the results can be replicated. On the other hand, manuals have been associated with fixed sequences and techniques. In summary, “there is a need to balance flexibility with structure, therapist creativity with treatment fidelity, therapist control with general stability” (2).  The conversational model can be used in outcome-based research to demonstrate long-lasting positive effects. The Mentalization-Based Treatment for Families manual looks for feedback. The  BAAT asked special interest groups to describe guidelines for an art therapy manual. This might relate to a certain way of working, or a certain client group.

International Journal of Art Therapy, 2014 Vol. 19 No. 2 82-87