The lived experience of art making as a companion to the mental health recovery process Academic Article uri icon


  • Art making is a common activity provided for consumers in mental health psychosocial rehabilitation services, yet there is little evidence available which examines its role in the recovery process. The current study inquires into mental health consumers' lived experiences of art making within psychosocial rehabilitation services and their views on how art making supports mental health recovery.This research used qualitative in-depth interviews to explore the role of art making in the mental health recovery journey. The sample comprised 18 consumer participants who attended art-based programs in two psychosocial services in Victoria, Australia. The 60-90 min interviews were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.A total of 11 major themes were identified and organised into three areas: qualities conducive to the art making context, how the art making process benefits mental health recovery, and how the image or art product benefits mental health recovery. The 11 themes are described and illustrated from participant interviews. Consumers described art making as a transformative activity which enabled them to take greater control of their lives, resulting in feeling stronger, more confident, and more capable of driving their journey of recovery. The art product also served valuable roles in supporting their recovery.Art making is a highly valued activity by consumers, who suggest that innovative and strengths-based methods, such as art making, can facilitate recovery and self-expression. A key challenge for the field is to determine how such methods can be better integrated into mental health service delivery.

publication date

  • January 2011