Art at the Start: A controlled trial and close observation of parent-infant art therapy intervention

Victoria Gray Armstrong (Lead / Corresponding author), Josephine Ross

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint

84 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: This two-part study seeks to evidence an art therapy intervention for parent-infant attachment relationships, looking at the improvements to the parents’ wellbeing and attachment perception and the changes in the infants’ experiences with their caregiver.

Method: Study one was a controlled trial with 105 participating parent/caregivers and their infants between 0 and 3 years, identified due to concerns about their relationship. They were quasi randomised to attend a 12-week art therapy group or treatment as usual. Measures were collected focused on the parents’ wellbeing and their perceptions of their infant. In study 2 a sample of 37 dyads had video footage from their first and penultimate sessions analysed to look for observable changes in the different channels of communication upon which attachments are predicated.

Results: The control trial showed intervention participants had significantly improved parental wellbeing, significant increases in attachment warmth and significant decreases in intrusion. This was in contrast to the control sample who showed a significant decrease in wellbeing, stable warmth, and significant increases in intrusion. The observation study showed that there was a significant increase in the communicative behaviours from the parents to the infant which would support attachments between the first and penultimate sessions.

Conclusions: We conclude that this intervention showed beneficial outcomes for parents and infants when compared with treatment as usual and therefor makes a robust case for the inclusion of art therapy intervention within the interventions available to improve attachment outcomes for at risk early relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 27 Oct 2022


  • art therapy
  • attachment
  • parent-infant
  • control trial
  • observation study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Art at the Start: A controlled trial and close observation of parent-infant art therapy intervention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this