Art Therapy - An Underutilized Tool

June 23, 2014

Art therapy has been increasingly recognized as beneficial and effective in the treatment of various types of both mental and physical conditions. This has been described and studied since Andrian Hill’s work in 1942. 

Art therapy has been shown to be effective in a broad range of conditions, including ADD, ADHD, autism, grief, inpatient psychiatric conditions, chronic illness, cancer in both pediatric and adult populations, stroke, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, as well as other conditions. 

It has been generally recognized that art therapy enhances communication, and bolsters self-esteem. 

Despite the apparent effectiveness of art therapy, and its ready acceptance by patients, the prevalence of the utilization of art therapy was this studies inquiry. 

We studied two areas in Ohio. An urban area defined by Cuyahoga County, which includes Metropolitan Cleveland. Also, we studied the more rural and suburban Trumbull and Mahoning counties were scrutinized for the prevalence of art therapy utilization in the inpatient settings.

Our study found that in urban Cuyahoga County, only 8 of 22 (36%) inpatient facilities utilize art therapy as a modality. In Trumbull and Mahoning counties, 1 of 5 (20%) inpatient institutions offered and utilized art therapy. We attempted to clarify why art therapy was not used in the non-utilizing-institutions. 

We attempted to clarify why art therapy was not used in non-utilizing institutions. The questionnaire included the options of 1) Lack of Instructors; 2) Lack of interest or demand by staff or patients; 3) Lack of support personnel or administration; or 4) Lack of funding. This study was unable to locate persons qualified to answer this inquiry and has been left for further study. 

Despite ongoing and recent studies showing art therapy to be beneficial, it’s utilization appears to be underutilized for unknown reasons at this time.  

Robert Bitonte, MD, JD. Marisa DeSanto, Biologic Science Student (UC Irvine)
Sponsoring Organization: 
Presented By: 
Robert Bitonte, MD, JD.