Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Theodore Bartholomew

Reader 2

Lahnna Catalino


There has been limited research done on how art therapy can be beneficial in treating patients with schizophrenia. There is an increasing interest in the use of art therapy to treat mental illnesses due to the negative side effects associated with many psychotropic medications, especially antipsychotics, even when they are able to ease the major symptoms of a disorder (Hanevik et al., 2013 as cited in Chiang et al., 2019). The literature shows that art therapy has had positive effects on people with schizophrenia. Studies have found that it can increase patients’ self-esteem, alleviate negative symptoms, improve quality of life, and although it is very few, some studies have shown an increase in medication compliance. Most of these studies were done in a group setting, and this has also shown to be beneficial as it can foster better social skills, which is important since many people with schizophrenia lack stronger social connections. Group therapy can also foster a feeling of belonging and importance.

The study presented in this paper proposes that positive art therapy in a group setting, a very small but promising form of therapy proposed by clinicians Rebecca Ann Wilkinson and Gioia Chilton in their book Positive Art Therapy Theory and Practice, will be implemented for patients with schizophrenia in a rehabilitation center. Positive art therapy is the combination of art therapy and positive psychology. Positive psychology is the study of mechanisms and conditions that will result in optimal human functioning and well-being. It focuses on increasing the focus on one’s strengths and how to live a balanced and healthy life rather than putting most of the focus on how to “fix” someone’s disorder and the problems that come with it. There will also be a control group in the study with patients with schizophrenia doing meditation in a group setting. The study would measure the participants’ self-esteem, negative symptoms, and medication compliance before and after the intervention or control activity. The literature has shown that these variables can improve with art therapy in individuals with schizophrenia, but the research is limited and has not seen the impact with positive art therapy.

The goal of this study is to find an alternative form of therapy for schizophrenia that can alleviate symptoms that currently are not properly targeted by antipsychotics or to use in combination with medication to enhance the quality of life and optimize long-term recovery. Schizophrenia is an especially debilitating mental disorder that requires more research on stronger forms of treatment.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.