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Takeo Nagasaka

Life Review Art Therapy:
An Effectiveness Study with Older Adults in Residential Care

        This study examines the effectiveness of Artistic Life Review as an art therapy treatment intervention with older adults in residential care. This approach uses reminiscence and life review techniques as the primary therapeutic focus. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of this treatment both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used.

            Two experimental “Artistic Life Review” groups, each consisting of 4 or 5 participants, were conducted at Norwood Park Home for a period of six weeks. Participants were placed in either group according to their scores of Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). Art therapy themes focusing on the participants’ life memories were developed for these experimental groups. Two control groups were formed consisting of 4 or 5 participants who would not experience art therapy during these periods.

            The groups were compared for changes in depressive mood, cognitive status, and overall involvement in daily activity programs. A short version of the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS 15) was used as a subjective measure to compare changes in depressive mood. The Cornell Scale for Depression with Dementia, MMSE, and the activity participation logs were used as objective measures to compare changes in depressive mood, cognitive status, and involvement in activities, respectively. These instruments were used as pre- and post-tests with all experimental and control groups.

         The subjective evaluation of the art therapy services by the participants of the experimental groups was documented in the form of questionnaire at the end of the group. The effectiveness and usefulness of the combination of reminiscence, life review techniques, and visual art tasks as an art therapy intervention for older adults are discussed.


          Takeo Nagasaka received a BFA in painting from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 2002. While in the MAAT program, he gained clinical experience as an intern working with children and adolescents with emotional disturbances at Allendale Association/Stepping Stone Day Treatment Education and with older adults at Norwood Park Home.


Thesis Advisor: Randy M. Vick,  Associate Professor , Chair, Art Therapy

Thesis Reader: Todd Jackson,  Associate Professor, Human Behavior and Diversity, University of Wisconsin-Superior, Superior, WI

Second Reader: John A. Kunz, Director, Educational Events, American Society on Aging, San Francisco, CA





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