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A feasibility study of art therapy to improve maternal depression and infant outcomes: The PATCH Study (Painting Art Therapy to promote Child Health)

Research shows that children of mothers who are depressed and unresponsive to their child’s needs can develop attachment problems, with early intervention leading to cost effective, health benefits for mother and child. Because antidepressants are unpopular with new mothers there is a need for psychotherapeutic intervention. Several small-scale studies show that art therapy can improve maternal depression and potentially the mother/child relationship.

This feasibility study examines how mothers are best recruited to join the groups and their feelings about taking part in a group based art therapy intervention, which is designed to improve their depression and support their interaction with their baby. Twelve eligible postnatal mothers (with infants and suffering with self-rated mild to moderate depression using the Beck Depression Inventory) are being recruited to take part. Six mothers with infants will attend one of two 12 week art therapy groups. Groups will be run by an Art Therapist, Health Visitor and Nursery Nurse (interventionists) who will help identify problems and evaluate the study. Participants will be asked to take part in a one-to-one interview before and after the intervention. A sample of therapy sessions will be observed and recorded to assess how well the intervention is being delivered, as well as providing further information on how to improve the therapy model. The study aims to assess the acceptability and feasibility of the study processes.


Full Co-ordination

Study Type



Wales School for Primary Care Research (WSPCR)



Study Status



(SEWTU & NISCHR Themes) – Children - Mental Health

Lead Investigator

Dr Orion Owen - Cardiff University

Study Team

Y Moriarty (Study Manager) – SEWTU, Cardiff University

M Robling – SEWTU, Cardiff University

C O’Neill – SEWTU Cardiff University

Carl Arroyo, Art Therapist

Contact information

Email address
+44 29 20687937, ext. 87937 (Office)

Key data

Start date
Aug. 1, 2014
End date
March 31, 2015
Grant value
General enquiries
Yvonne Moriarty

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