Arts for the Blues : the development of a new evidence-based creative group psychotherapy for depression

Omylinska-Thurston, J ORCID:, Karkou, V, Parsons, AS ORCID:, Nair, K, Starkey, J, Dubrow-Marshall, LJ ORCID:, Thurston, SD ORCID:, Dudley-Swarbrick, I and Sharma, S 2021, 'Arts for the Blues : the development of a new evidence-based creative group psychotherapy for depression' , Counselling Psychotherapy Research, 21 (3) , pp. 597-607.

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Access Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Omylinska‐Thurston, J, Karkou, V, Parsons, A, et al. Arts for the Blues: The development of a new evidence‐based creative group psychotherapy for depression. Couns Psychother Res. 2020, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.


Introduction: Depression affects many adults in the UK, often resulting in referral to primary care mental health services (e.g. Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, IAPT). CBT is the main modality for depression within IAPT, with other approaches offered in a limited capacity. Arts psychotherapies are rarely provided despite their attractiveness to clients. However, the recent drop-out rate of 64% within IAPT suggests that clients’ needs are not being fully met. Therefore, in order to expand clients’ choice we developed a new creative psychological therapy integrating evidence-based approaches with arts psychotherapies. Method: A three-level approach was used: a) thematic synthesis of client-identified helpful factors in evidence-based approaches for depression and in arts psychotherapies; b) studio practice exploring Cochrane Review findings on arts psychotherapies for depression; c) pilot workshops for clients with depression and therapists. Findings and Discussion: Eight key ingredients for positive therapy outcomes were identified: encouraging active engagement, learning skills, developing relationships, expressing emotions, processing at a deeper level, gaining understanding, experimenting with different ways of being, and integrating useful material. These ingredients were brought together as Arts for the Blues for clients with depression: a 12-session evidencebased pluralistic group psychotherapy integrating creative methods as well as talking therapy. Conclusion: The evidence-based foundation, creative content, and pluralistic nature of this new approach aligned with eight client-identified key ingredients for positive therapy outcomes, make it a promising therapy option that can be adapted to individual therapy. Implications include consideration for NICE approval as an additional therapy for depression.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Health Sciences Research
Journal or Publication Title: Counselling Psychotherapy Research
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1473-3145
Related URLs:
Funders: Liverpool CCG
Depositing User: J Omylinska-Thurston
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2020 08:20
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 16:40

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