The participants were a carefully selected purposive sample rather than a representative one. GPs identified patients who were suitable for, and wished to commence, antidepressant treatment. The trial psychiatrist assessed potential participants within one working day of referral. Those fitting the suitability of the project – by engaging in the creative process – were selected by the psychiatrist.
Karen and Susan worked one-to-one with the participants to explore how their view of themselves changed as they recovered from depression. This involved seeing patients before, during and after their treatment. The participants were asked to respond to visual prompts seen in the photographs here which were introduced as a stimulus for the patients to make artworks using a video camera. Participants met with the artist’s on a weekly basis after having been administered medication by the trial psychiatrist.
Participants began filming for 24 hours before commencing antidepressant medication, and continued throughout the first six weeks of treatment. Each week the participants met with the artists to review and discuss their films. From this visual analysis participants were encouraged to reflect on: how their emotional perception of their environment was changing; their sense of self and personal authenticity; and their sense of agency and affirmation in relation to their recovery.
Finally the participants were given the option of editing the works they had produced. It was entirely the participants’ decision whether they wanted to take part or not. However all of the participants decided that they would like to take part in this aspect of the project.
The participants diagnosis was confirmed by the psychiatrist using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview and baseline symptom severity measured using the Beck Depression Inventory II. The psychiatrists assessed capacity to consent using routine clinical methodology.
This project was a qualitative study using a variety of media and guidance from professional artists to capture changes in emotional perceptions, personal authenticity, multiple intelligences and the process of recovery during treatment with antidepressant medication. Alongside qualitative methods the trial psychatrists performed psychometric tests. The artists, working in partnership with psychiatric patients, produced collaborative artworks whilst also creating their own artworks in response to the process.