Art as a Therapeutic Tool in Depressive Disorders: a Systematic Review of the Literature

  • Fernando Mateus Viégas BrandãoEmail author
  • Carolina Ventura Silva
  • Kleber Roberto da Silva Gonçalves de Oliveira
  • Janari da Silva Pedroso
Review Article


Different alternative forms of therapy have been studied in relation to their applicability and effectiveness. The use of art therapy in the treatment of depressive disorder is an example frequently employed in several countries. The aim of this research was to identify and discuss which artistic techniques have been applied most frequently in the treatment of depressive disorders and what their main effects are. The research was conducted in the MEDLINE/PubMed, American Psychological Association (APA) and Web of Science databases. The articles were selected through the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA protocol). 14 articles were selected, among which the main techniques of art therapy used were: manual work (drawing, painting, and modeling), music, poetry, photography, theater and contemplation of art pieces. It was found that most of the researches are European and as a field of knowledge they depart mainly from medicine. Of the 14 researches of this review, only two failed in the use of art therapy techniques as a therapeutic tool. It can be understood that art therapy is a safe and reliable tool for treatment not only of depression but also of other mental disorders.


Art therapy Depression Mental disorders 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of MedicineState University of ParáBelémBrazil
  2. 2.Faculty of PsychologyFederal University of ParáBelémBrazil
  3. 3.Faculty of MedicineFederal University of ParáBelémBrazil

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