Drawn Together Through Group Art Therapy: Intervention Responses of Adults With a Traumatic Brain Injury


  • Alan L. Briks principal contact author
  • Monica L. Wiebe
  • Sandra P. Hirst
  • E. Aiofe Freeman-Cruz
  • Carole-Lynne M. Le Navenec
  • Gerrit Groeneweg University of Calgary


The authors explored the experiences of adults living with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in group art therapy. Integral to this study was a replicable methodology, including an original group art therapy treatment protocol for research that may be useful for practice-based applications. The treatment protocol consisted of a selected series of therapeutic art exercises for a short-term, 12-session art therapy course of treatment. Thirteen adults living with a TBI participated in the study, divided into two treatment groups comprised of six and seven adults (four female, nine male), respectively. Several quantitative measures and assessment tools were chosen to rate pre-therapy and post-therapy differences in self-esteem, coping, cognitive capacity, and affect. These included the Neurobehavioral Cognitive Status Examination (or Cognistat), the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (adult form), Rosenberg’s Self Esteem Scale, the COPE Inventory, and the Affect Rating Scale. The study included a pre-intervention interview, the Diagnostic Drawing Series (DDS), a comparative analysis of formal characteristics of the artwork, student observation notes, commentary on select imagery illustrating therapeutic transformations within the treatment process, and a satisfaction survey. Analyses of the quantitative data revealed a significant reduction in anxiety with positive clinical trends noted in domains of affect, cognitive functioning, and coping styles. The authors concluded that the study should be replicated with additional variables included.

Author Biographies

Alan L. Briks, principal contact author

Alan L. Briks (MA, ATR-BC) is a registered, board-certified art therapist in private practice at Art Therapy Clinical Services in Calgary, Alberta. He was formerly an adjunct clinical associate professor in the nursing faculty at the University of Calgary. His research interests include art therapy and personal mythology as well as art therapy with adolescents and persons with disabilities.

Monica L. Wiebe

Monica L. Wiebe (MA, ATR, MSW, RSW) was formerly an assistant sessional instructor at the University of Calgary and a clinician at Wood’s Homes. She is currently a practising art therapist and a social worker in Calgary, Alberta. Her areas of professional interest include art therapy with children, adolescents, families, older adults, and persons with disabilities.

Sandra P. Hirst

Sandra P. Hirst (RN, PhD) is an associate professor emeritus at the University of Calgary. She is committed to advancing the care of older adults through the education of health care professionals. Her research interests include the contribution of the creative arts to the quality of life of older adults.

E. Aiofe Freeman-Cruz

E. Aiofe Freeman-Cruz received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Calgary. She works as a counselling psychologist at the Southern Alberta Institute for Technology as well as maintaining a small private practice. Her main area of professional interest is in the constructed identities associated with acquired brain injury, chronic illness, family caregiving, and adolescence.

Carole-Lynne M. Le Navenec

Carole-Lynne M. Le Navenec (RN, PhD) is the principal investigator of this study. She is an associate professor emeritus of nursing at the University of Calgary and director of the Creative Arts/Integrative Therapies in Health Care Research group.

Gerrit Groeneweg, University of Calgary

Gerrit Groeneweg (PhD) was formerly the executive director of the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre in Calgary and an adjunct assistant professor Department of Psychology, University of Calgary. He is now with Elevation Consulting in Calgary, Alberta.




How to Cite

Briks, A. L., Wiebe, M. L., Hirst, S. P., Freeman-Cruz, E. A., Le Navenec, C.-L. M., & Groeneweg, G. (2020). Drawn Together Through Group Art Therapy: Intervention Responses of Adults With a Traumatic Brain Injury. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 54(3), 349–387. Retrieved from https://cjc-rcc.ucalgary.ca/article/view/69467



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