Effectiveness of trauma-focused art therapy (TFAT) for psychological trauma : study protocol of a multiple-baseline single-case experimental design

Introduction Treatments such as eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing and (narrative) exposure therapies are commonly used in psychological trauma. In everyday practice, art therapy is also often used, although rigorous research on its efficacy is lacking. Patients seem to benefit from the indirect, non-verbal experiential approach of art therapy. This protocol paper describes a study to examine the effectiveness of a 10-week individual trauma-focused art therapy (TFAT) intervention.


Methods and analysis A mixed-methods multiple-baseline single-case experimental design will be conducted with 25–30 participants with psychological trauma. Participants will be randomly assigned to a baseline period lasting 3–5 weeks, followed by the TFAT intervention (10 weeks) and follow-up (3 weeks). Quantitative measures will be completed weekly: the Beck Depression Inventory-II, the Mental Health Continuum Short Form, the Resilience Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and the Self-expression and Emotion Regulation in Art Therapy Scale. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-5 will be completed at week 1 and week 10. Qualitative instruments comprise a semistructured interview with each individual patient and therapist, and a short evaluation for the referrer. Artwork will be used to illustrate the narrative findings. Quantitative outcomes will be analysed with linear mixed models using the MultiSCED web application. Qualitative analyses will be performed using thematic analysis with ATLAS.ti.


Ethics and dissemination This study has been approved by the ethics committee of the HAN University of Applied Sciences (ECO 394.0922). All participants will sign an informed consent form and data will be treated confidentially. Findings will be published open access in peer-reviewed journals.


Trial registration number NCT05593302.

Jackie Heijman, Hans Wouters, Karin Alice Schouten, Suzanne Haeyen | 2024
In: BMJ Open : ISSN: 2044-6055 | 14 | january | e081917
Art Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Effectiveness, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Instruments, Narrative Exposure Therapy, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Randomized Clinical Trial, Research, Self Esteem, Treatment
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