An evaluation of a developmental individual differences relationship-based (DIR®)- creative arts therapies program for children with autism

Faith Thayer, Bradley S. Bloomfield

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    2 Citations (Scopus)


    Both developmental, individual-differences, relationship-based (DIR®) and creative arts therapy (CAT) intervention methods have demonstrated positive effects for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD); however, they have not been evaluated in combination. The study evaluated whether a DIR®-based CAT program met its stated goals to stimulate individualized social-emotional growth for children with ASD. A summative, longitudinal program evaluation research design was used to examine the program's fidelity and outcomes. The evaluation included assessments for pre- and post-test quantitative standardized measures for data collection and analysis. The study also collected data from treatment logs to document the fidelity to the treatment model. The study was conducted in a non-profit, parent-founded private day school in a large city on the East Coast of the United States. Twenty one students (age 5–21 years old) participated in a comprehensive DIR®-based CAT program compromising weekly individual and group-based dance, music, and art therapy sessions across six months. The study found moderate evidence supporting the proposition that children who participated in a DIR®-based creative arts therapy program experienced increased and improved social/emotional skills. Implications of this program evaluation for future research and therapeutic service for individuals with ASD will be discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number101752
    Number of pages7
    JournalThe Arts in Psychotherapy
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


    • Autism
    • Creative arts therapies
    • Developmental individual-differences relationship based
    • Floortime

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