Assessing the Extent to Which Art Therapy Can Be Used with Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Thematic Analysis of Published Studies

Lauren Laird, Natasha Mulvihill
2021 Journal of Child Sexual Abuse  
In a 2015-2016 UK survey of 35, 248 adults, 7% reported experiencing sexual abuse as children. This review considers the value of Art Therapy (AT) in recognizing individual needs and experiences and supporting victims to manage the lasting impact of abuse. Three main bodies of research were identified: the use of AT in childhood sexual abuse (CSA) investigations; the use of art therapy in the treatment of the psychological sequelae of CSA victims in childhood and adulthood; and an assessment of
more » ... how art therapy compares to other therapeutic approaches for CSA victims. The review highlights that AT particularly benefits rapport building between victim and therapist/investigator, and alleviates some psychological consequences of sexual abuse - particularly anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and dissociation. By engaging the limbic system, AT may also provide a communicative form, building a narrative where verbal communication is hindered. However, the analysis brings attention to several weaknesses in the current AT research: available studies tend to have small sample sizes and few quantitative findings. This review concludes by identifying the need for research which considers the clinical implications of AT in CSA cases for the future.
doi:10.1080/10538712.2021.1918308 pmid:34126870 fatcat:7i2frclcbffchbg7uukiupimhq