Riding the wake: detailing the art therapy delivered in the MATISSE study

Sue Patterson, Diane Waller, Helen Killaspy, Mike J. Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Art therapists have been unsettled by the findings of a pragmatic randomised controlled trial testing the addition of groupbasedart therapy to standard care for people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Arguments that the therapy tested was notthat routinely delivered in the UK have been fuelled by the arguably scant descriptions of therapy published to date. Toinform the important debate about implications of findings, we provide a comprehensive description of therapy delivered inMATISSE. Drawing on accounts of therapists, their supervisors and participants and study documents, we articulate thethree models used to deliver therapy. Described as modified studio, phased group and potentially interactive art therapy,the models were differentiated by structure and the degree of interpersonal and types of therapeutic interaction encouraged.Therapists, it seems, began with their ‘usual' practice and while remaining true to their ethos, modified that to fit the trialcontext and participants' needs. Such adaptation is consistent with the principles of pragmatic trials which seek to testinterventions in circumstances approximating the ‘real world'. MATISSE provides a piece of the puzzle but a pluralityof evidence is needed before ‘calling time' on the debate about the usefulness of art therapy for people diagnosed withschizophrenia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-38
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Art Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 British Association of Art Therapists


  • Art therapy
  • models
  • group
  • randomised controlled trial
  • process evaluation
  • qualitative


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