The Art at the Start project aims to publish high quality research as the project progresses and we will flag up publications here as we go along.

Evaluating Create Together

The outcomes from a successful pilot of the Create Together art therapy groups were published in the Infant Mental Health Journal in 2015.

Armstrong and Howatson (2015) Parent-infant Art Psychotherapy: A Creative Dyadic Approach to Early Intervention. Infant Mental Health Journal. 36:2

Outcomes from Create Together parent-infant art therapy

We published the next stage of our research in the International Journal of Art Therapy, piloting the use of qualitative and quantitative measures to evaluate the outcomes for parents and their infants from attending the art psychotherapy groups

V. G. Armstrong, E. Dalinkeviciute & J.Ross (2019) A dyadic art psychotherapy group for parents and infants – piloting quantitative methodologies for evaluation, International Journal of Art Therapy

Talking About Art

PhD student, Holly Rumble, explored the impact of Dundee Contemporary Art’s Create Space on family learning. Her 2019 MSc dissertation, Talking About Art, is available as a PDF Talking About Art Full Report

Integrative Literature Review

We have published an integrative literature review, looking at the evidence base for an art therapy approach with parents and infants together.

V. G. Armstrong & J. Ross (2020) The evidence base for art therapy with parent and infant dyads: an integrative literature review, International Journal of Art Therapy

Book Chapter – Mechanisms of change in parent-infant art therapy

Our chapter on the mechanisms of change in art therapy with parents and infants, including lots of examples from case material, has been published in Hogan, S (2020), Therapeutic Arts in Pregnancy, Birth and New Parenthood, Routledge , London.

Our report – Art boxes supporting parents and infants to share creative interactions at home: an art-based response to improve well-being during COVID-19 restrictions – is published open-access in Public Health

This report looks at our preliminary findings from interviews with parents who received a Home Art Box over the period of Covid-19 restrictions. We saw several benefits including increased parental confidence to make art together and increasing connections between parent and child. 

Case study on the Royal Society for Public Health’s AHP hub

Our case study on the work of Art at the Start within the DCA including art therapy sessions, public sessions and Home Art Boxes in an example of best practice in art therapy on the Allied Health Professionals Hub

Engage Journal special edition on Class and Inequality

Vicky and Sarah wrote about how their activity to deliver art materials to vulnerable families over the pandemic was able to address inequalities in health and arts access in the Engage journal for visual arts and gallery education

Public Talk

Vicky presented on our project at a Royal Society of Edinburgh event focused on infant wellbeing after winning the RSE Innovators Award for Public Engagement.

Full results from the Home Art Boxes

Our full results of our interviews with parents on how they experienced the home art boxes are published open access in Frontiers, showing the potential of art making to support wellbeing and attachment relationships

Armstrong VG and Ross J (2022) The Experiences of Parents and Infants Using a Home-Based Art Intervention Aimed at Improving Wellbeing and Connectedness in Their Relationship. Front. Psychol. 13:732562

Vicky worked with the Scottish Government Programme Board for Infant Mental Health subgroup looking at The Voice of the Infant.

This involved gathering evidence on infant participation and developing guidance for best practice in how all adults who come into contact with babies can tune in to their communications and act upon them. This development is captured in this paper for the Journal of Infant Observation.

The Best Practice Guidance and Infant Pledge were published by the Scottish Government in 2023. Art at the Start is a case study example of good practice.

Control Trial results of Parent Infant Art Therapy

The full results of our control trial comparing parent-infant art therapy with treatment as usual have been published in the Infant Mental Health Journal. We used standardised measures and showed a significant improvement in parental wellbeing and their perception of the relationship. A second study used an observation measure and found positive changes for the infants in the kinds of relationship they were experiencing.

Armstrong, V. G., & Ross, J. (2023). Art at the Start: A controlled trial and close observation of parent-infant art therapy intervention. Infant Mental Health Journal, 44, 720–737

The perspectives of parents and caregivers accessing the parent-infant art therapy service were captured in this paper in Arts in Psychotherapy, available open access here

Armstrong, V. & Ross, J. (2023). Actually, today was a good day, so today we’re doing all right: Parental perspectives on a dyadic group art therapy intervention for parent and infant wellbeing and attachments. Arts in Psychotherapy, 85

Scaling up Art at the Start

In 2023 we were funded by the AHRC to explore rolling out the Art at the Start approach in partnership with galleries across Scotland. You can find out more here and read our report:

Armstrong, V. G. and Ross, J. (2023) Art at the Start: Creative community
intervention for perinatal and infant mental health, UKRI Mobilising Community
Assets to Combat Health Inequalities Report, University of Dundee.