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How Art Therapy Can Ease the Transition Through Menopause
  • Posted January 15, 2024

How Art Therapy Can Ease the Transition Through Menopause

Art therapy has the potential to help women deal with menopause, a new study reports.

Creative arts therapies combined with nutrition education significantly improved quality of life, stress, anxiety and body image in a group of overweight women who had entered menopause, researchers said.

All participants also experienced decreases in body mass index and blood pressure.

“We learned that the participants -- being part of a relatively understudied and neglected population: women who are overweight and in the post menopause stage of life -- appreciated having a special time and space set apart just for them that permitted mindful art, writing and movement experiences,” said lead researcher Rebekka Dieterich-Hartwell, a research fellow with Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions.

In the tiny study, three women attended a 16-week online intervention, with weekly sessions facilitated by a nutritionist, a dance movement therapist and an art therapist.

The art therapy sessions focused on quality of life, emotional regulation, body image and stress management.

For example, participants were asked to depict the transition from a negative to a positive emotion.

One woman started with a red “angry” swirl of oil pastels on one side of a piece of paper, and a blue boxy structure with small circles inside representing “contentment” on the other side. She connected the two sides with a purple “rainbow.”

Nutrition education included topics like choosing healthy foods and beverages, managing portion sizes and staying hydrated.

The results suggest that an integrated approach can help women with menopause deal with physical and emotional challenges that come with that stage of life.

“While this was a very small sample and the findings cannot be generalized, they indicate that a multimodal intervention with educational, expressive and creative components can be beneficial for physiological and for the psychosocial well-being of postmenopausal women who have an elevated BMI and at risk for cardiovascular disease,” Dieterich-Hartwell said in a university news release.

The team is following up this study with a larger randomized, controlled trial, which has received funding from the state of Pennsylvania. The trial starts this month.

The new study was published recently in the journal Art Therapy.

More information

The American Art Therapy Association has more about art therapy.

SOURCE: Drexel University, news release, Jan. 11, 2024

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