Two decades later, the field of research in art therapy has developed considerably.
Two decades later, this research field has extended its scope and is flourishing.
Several current reviews of research work have described the broad range of methods implemented today, which includes qualitative and quantitative studies; other reviews have focused on art therapy with specific populations, or by age group.
In 1999, nearly two decades ago, the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) (1999) issued a mission statement that outlined the organization's commitment to research, defined the preferential topics for this research, and suggested future research directions in the field. (2000) published a review of studies that addressed the therapeutic effectiveness of art therapy.
They included studies that differed in terms of research quality and standards.
Since the field of art therapy is still young, the scope of research is limited and the quality of research is diverse, which makes it difficult to create a comparative review that presents the knowledge in the field and draws thorough conclusions.
Therefore, our review is based on the systematic review framework proposed in Case-Smith (2013) who divided the studies she reviewed into three levels of evidence.
Some of these reviews present studies that have examined the effectiveness of art therapy, without distinguishing between different populations.
For example, as an extension of the work and review by Reynolds et al. (2010) reviewed articles published between 19 that measured the outcome of art therapy sessions with different populations.
They pointed out that it is difficult to produce quantitative meta-analyses in art therapy given the limited size of the groups and because the evaluation is often based on several therapeutic methods that are used simultaneously. (2015a,b) reviewed all the studies dealing with art therapy for adult clients with non-psychotic psychiatric disorders (anxiety, depression, and phobias).
They found 15 randomized controlled quantitative studies of which 10 indicated that the therapeutic process was effective (positive changes following therapy in comparison to the control group).