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Evidence Map of Art Therapy

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Evidence Map of Art Therapy

Prepared by:
Evidence Synthesis Program (ESP) Center
West Los Angeles VA Medical Center
Los Angeles, CA
Paul G. Shekelle, MD, PhD, Director

Recommended Citation:
Miake-Lye IM, Apaydin EA, Mak SS, Begashaw MM, Beroes-Severin JM, Shekelle PG. Evidence Map of Art Therapy. Washington, DC: Evidence Synthesis Program, Health Services Research and Development Service, Office of Research and Development, Department of Veterans Affairs. VA ESP Project #05-226; 2019.

Download PDF: Complete Report, Appendices


Many Veterans desire complementary and integrative health or alternative medicine modalities, and art therapy is one such option. Given VA’s desire to promote evidence-based practice, this evidence mapping project aims to help provide guidance to VA leadership about the distribution of evidence on art therapy to inform policy and future directions for art therapy in VA.

The National Organization for Arts in Health (NOAH) identifies 6 “distinct regulated health professions” within the Creative Arts Therapies (CAT), which have “a definition of the profession, a legally defensible scope of practice, educational competencies, standards of practice, code of ethics, and evidence-based research.”1,2 These include art therapy, dance/movement therapy, drama therapy, music therapy, poetry therapy, and psychodrama therapy. Therapists within these disciplines are credentialed in accordance with national and state regulations and standards. While arts can be used in other ways within health care and public health, programs that are not led by trained therapists are considered distinct from Creative Arts Therapies. The focus for this report is on 1 of these 6 disciplines: art therapy.

Various types of art therapy have been used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, including schizophrenia,3 depression,4 and stroke rehabilitation.5 Given the breadth of conditions to which art therapy has been applied, we conducted an evidence mapping process to determine the distribution of evidence available for various health conditions, identify different gaps in evidence, and inform future research priorities. An evidence map is an overview of a broad research field that describes the volume, nature, and characteristics of research in a particular field.6


The objective of this mapping project was to provide a visual overview of the distribution of evidence for art therapy, as well as an accompanying narrative to help stakeholders interpret the state of evidence to inform policy and future directions for art therapy in VA.

See also

Art Therapy: A Map of the Evidence (Management eBrief)

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