Cognitive Behavioural and Art-based program (CB-ART): a pilot study in an early parenting centre

Hilary Brown, Jane Fisher, Julie Cwikel, Orly Sarid, Heather Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The period of pregnancy and early motherhood is a substantial life change associated with psychological turbulence. During this period, some women experience symptoms of anxiety and depression of sufficient severity to warrant professional psychological assistance. Psychosocial and psychological interventions are key therapeutic approaches for women at this life stage. There is growing evidence of the value of the arts in the prevention and treatment of mental health problems. Evidence suggests that women prefer psychological interventions that provide social support and shared space for reflection. Cognitive Behavioural and Art-based intervention (CB-ART) is a novel therapy for prevention and treatment of perinatal mental health problems. The aim of this study was to implement and evaluate CB-ART for acceptability, feasibility, safety and preliminary efficacy among women admitted to a residential early parenting unit. Methods: The pilot study used a single-centre, mixed-methods pre- and post-test design to evaluate CB-ART among women admitted to a 5-day residential early parenting service in Melbourne, Australia. Participants completed questionnaires before and after attendance at two 1-h CB-ART group sessions on day 2 and day 5 of admission during which field notes were taken. Evaluation interviews were conducted by telephone 1 week after discharge. The Short Profile of Emotional Competence and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale were used to assess emotional insight and symptoms of depression, respectively. Feasibility, acceptability and safety were assessed using an analysis of field notes, with quantitative data collected by telephone questionnaire and qualitative data by telephone interviews. Results: Nine participants enrolled in the program; eight provided complete data. Two CB-ART groups were conducted. Before and after comparisons showed that there was an improvement in symptoms of postnatal depression and a marginal improvement in emotional insight. Thematic analysis of qualitative data indicated CB-ART was a feasible and acceptable means of assisting reflection. Conclusion: The preliminary data indicate that the CB-ART program is a feasible, acceptable and safe addition to the 5-day residential program, with potentially therapeutic benefits. A larger randomised study is required to assess the effects of the CB-ART intervention on symptom measures in this and other postnatal settings. Trial registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN126220000354785 . Registered 1 January 2022—retrospectively registered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number140
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Art therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioural intervention
  • Drawing
  • Postnatal
  • Pregnancy
  • Visual art

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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