“Lifting the Burden” Art Therapy for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

  • Stefanie Winter-Martin

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Intimate partner violence is a prevalent problem throughout the world and is associated with significant physical as well as psychological impairment for women. Few studies are available to fully illuminate which interventions are most beneficial in healing and empowering women after their experience of violence in an intimate relationship. Although many traditional as well as creative approaches (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Person-Centred Therapy or Creative Arts Therapies) are used in practice, much of the work with survivors is not grounded in empirical research. In the present study the effects of Art Therapy in comparison with Person-Centred Therapy and routine intervention without additional therapy have been measured by quantitative as well as qualitative means. Measures of self-efficacy, self-esteem, depression, symptoms of PTSD and general psychological well-being were administered to a sample of survivors of intimate partner violence at baseline, end-of-treatment and follow-up. Therapy experience has been the focus of one-on-one interviews with participants. In general, all intervention groups improved on most outcome measures at follow-up. Participation in either of both therapeutic interventions in addition to routine care, however, contributed to improvements in difficulties related to phobic anxiety and impaired self-reference. Art Therapy was particularly effective in improving general psychological wellbeing and in particular self-efficacy, self-esteem, depression, somatic problems and several debilitating symptoms of PTSD.
Date of Award2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorCatherine Gilvarry (Supervisor), Matthew Trustman (Supervisor) & Janek Dubowski (Supervisor)

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