Material interaction in art therapy assessment

I. Penzes-Driessen, S. Van Hooren, D. Dokter, Henk Smeijsters, G. Hutschemaekers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Diverse approaches to art therapy assessment agree that art materials should play a central role. However, relatively little research is done on the role of different art materials. This article describes the results of a qualitative study on the use of art materials by art therapists in art therapy assessments of adults with mental health problems in The Netherlands.

Nine qualitative in-depth interviews were analyzed using Grounded Theory, which produced a theoretical framework of the use of art materials in art therapy assessments. This study showed that the way in which a client interacts with specific properties of art materials (i.e., the material interaction) reflects aspects of the client's mental health. Methodical application of specific properties of art materials enables art therapists to observe the client's material interaction and gain insight into the client's mental health. This observation helps art therapists with decisions to offer further treatment, formulate treatment goals and choose appropriate art interventions. Material interaction links art material properties to art making, art product and mental health, and it may connect the diverse approaches to art therapy assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-492
Number of pages9
JournalArts in Psychotherapy
Issue number5
Early online date23 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • Art therapy assessment
  • Adult mental health
  • Art materials
  • Material interaction
  • Grounded theory

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