Culture and Health

From Therapeutic Factors to Mechanisms of Change in the Creative Arts Therapies

A scoping review

The numerous empirical researches conducted over the past 10 years in creative arts therapies (CATs), i.e. visual arts, performing arts (dance/movement, musical theatre, psychodrama), music, poetry/bibliotherapy, have documented a wide range of psychological and physiological outcomes (e.g. on anxiety, stress, trauma, depression, pain). In order to gain a greater understanding of how and why CATs influence outcomes, a scoping review (Nstudies = 67) was conducted to identify CATs discipline-specific therapeutic factors, factors common to CATs and psychotherapeutic factors. This review then provides an overview of empirical studies on CATs that address therapeutic factors and/or mechanisms of change and a detailed analysis of these therapeutic factors divided into domains. A framework of 19 CATs therapeutic factor domains is proposed, of which three are composed exclusively of factors unique to CATs: 'embodiment', 'concretisation' and 'symbolism and metaphors'.