New Study: Art Therapy May Build Self-Esteem in People Living with Epilepsy
Epilepsy Foundation
Monday, December 8, 2014

SEATTLE ? People living with epilepsy report increased self-esteem after participating in Studio E: The Epilepsy Art Therapy Program, according to a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society (AES), in Seattle, Washington. Studio E is a multi-week program made possible nationwide through a partnership between the Epilepsy Foundation and the pharmaceutical company Lundbeck.

?We consistently witness the therapeutic power of art therapy among Studio E participants across the country, whether it be increased confidence or a release from stigma among people previously hesitant to share their epilepsy story with others,? said Lacy Vitko, lead art therapy coordinator at the Epilepsy Foundation?s national office in Washington D.C., and co-author of the study. ?This study brings further validity to the inspirational transformations we?ve seen among participants in Studio E sessions.?

The Epilepsy Foundation and Lundbeck partnered in 2011 to pilot Studio E in four U.S. cities. Given the program?s success, it was gradually expanded in 2012 and 2013, and is now available in nearly 50 U.S. cities, making it the first national program of its kind. It is offered free of charge through the Epilepsy Foundation?s network of affiliates and Lundbeck?s financial and volunteer support.

?My involvement in this program dates back five years when we first started doing epilepsy art therapy in Chicago, and it was a dream of mine to make this possible throughout the country,? said Jill Gattone, manager of epilepsy advocacy and patient support at Lundbeck, and co-author of the study. ?The transformation in terms of increased self-expression, confidence and friendships at every Studio E program compel us to keep improving and expanding this wonderful program.?

About the Study

Nine Studio E programs were included in the study, which enrolled 67 people living with epilepsy.1 Master?s degree level art therapists were trained in the program and facilitated the groups using an open studio model of art therapy for three hours each week. Art therapists provided a variety of art materials and invited participants to set an intention, make art, write about their experience and share with others. Pre- and post-intervention outcomes were measured using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) and the Quality of Life in Epilepsy Inventory-10 (QOLIE-10).

Program participants showed significant improvements in self-esteem, as measured by the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, after participating in the art therapy program (t=1.796, p=0.03). Self-esteem measures in the study included feelings of self-worth, self-respect and ability to do things as well as most other people.1 In addition, only eight people dropped from the study, suggesting participants found this to be a useful program.

Because of the success of the art therapy program, a randomized controlled trial is in development to provide further evidence of the impact of Studio E.

About Studio E

Studio E is a six to eight-week program consisting of weekly 3-hour sessions. It is open to all people living with epilepsy. Participants create art using a variety of mediums, such as painting, sketching, collaging and sculpting, and work with professional art therapists who encourage freedom of expression and open sharing. Participants socialize with others affected by seizures and, using art, open up honestly about daily challenges.

To raise awareness of epilepsy, seizures, and the role of art making as therapy, artwork by Studio E participants is currently on display at AES, as well as in public locations and doctor?s offices around the country.

People living with epilepsy can learn more about Studio E by visiting Studio E: The Epilepsy Art Therapy Program | Epilepsy Foundation. Artwork from the Studio E program can be viewed online at Participate. Educate. Inspire | Become a Partner in Epilepsy.

About Epilepsy

When a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, they have epilepsy,2 which affects nearly 3 million people in the United States3 and 65 million people worldwide.2 This year, another 150,000 people in our country will be diagnosed with epilepsy.3


Buelow JM, Vitko LR, Gattone JM. ?The Impact of an Art Therapy Program on Self-Esteem and Quality of Life in People with Epilepsy.? American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting 2014. Abstract #3.321.
Epilepsy Foundation. About Epilepsy: The Basics. About Epilepsy: The Basics | Epilepsy Foundation. Accessed 11/17/14.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epilepsy Basics: Frequently Asked Questions. CDC - Epilepsy - Basics - FAQs. Accessed 11/17/14.