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Effect of a long-term art-based group therapy with eating disorders
  1. Nurhan Eren1,
  2. Pervin Tunc2,
  3. Başak Yücel3
  1. 1 Faculty of Medicine, Department of Mental Health and Diseases, Social Psychiatry Service, Istanbul Universitesi, Istanbul, Turkey
  2. 2 Psychology Department, İstinye Üniversitesi, Istanbul, Turkey
  3. 3 Faculty of Medicine, Department of Mental Health and Diseases, Istanbul Universitesi, Istanbul, Turkey
  1. Correspondence to Professor Pervin Tunc, psychology department, İstinye Üniversitesi, Istanbul, Turkey; pervinden{at}


Eating disorders (EDs) affect the physical, psychological, emotional and interpersonal areas of the individual and cause serious medical and mental consequences. Their treatment should be handled in a multidisciplinary manner.

The objective of this study was to investigate potential benefits of long-term art-based group therapy (ABGT) as an adjunct to treatment for a variety of EDs. This study examined the effects of ABGT on disease symptoms, difficulty regulating emotions, depression, anxiety, targeted problems, functioning of individuals with EDs and therapeutic efficiency of the group. The study was carried out as a pre-test-post-test, quasi-experimental study with a control group, with a small sample diagnosed with an ED. In addition to their standard treatment at the outpatient centre, participants were included in a 30-week long-term semistructured ABGT focused on raising awareness of their psychological problems. Participants who received ABGT had significantly better functioning and lower severity of target problems compared with the control group. The severity of the three most important problems reported by patients post-ABGT compared with pre-ABGT and the effects of these problems on their social/private lives reduction was observed. The participants mostly benefited from catharsis, universality, self-understanding, existential factors and family re-enactment in the group process. Through the artwork, participants recognised the mental conflicts causing the symptoms of their ED. We found that art-based interventions are useful in the treatment of EDs, as they positively changed the functioning and symptoms of people with EDs. We recommend that clinicians keep these interventions in mind in formulating treatment protocols for these disorders.

  • art therapy
  • psychiatry
  • psychology

Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable as no data sets were generated and/or analysed for this study.

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Data availability statement

Data sharing is not applicable as no data sets were generated and/or analysed for this study.

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  • Contributors NE coordinated the planning, conduct, reporting, conception and design. PT was the lead clinician and conducted the art psychotherapy sessions, and is the guarantor of the article. BY reviewed the analysis.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.