Background: On February 14th, 2018, there was a traumatic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, in which 17 students and staff members were killed. This pilot study addresses restoring positive affect using a therapeutic intervention (creative arts therapy) that is palatable for adolescents.
Methods: The creative arts therapy intervention was evaluated using a pre-post test design assessed on the first and last day of a two week summer camp. Thirty two participants completed 20-item Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. Participants were rising high school students who had the option of participating in visual arts, drama, or music therapy.
Results: Overall, there was a significant increase in positive affect [mean difference=-5.15 t(31)=-4.60, p=<.001] and a significant decrease in negative affect [mean difference=3.10, t(31)=2.08, p=.046)]. Results by group showed a significant increase in positive affect in the drama group, the visual arts group, and a trend in the music group. There was no significant change in negative affect in the drama or music groups, but a significant decrease in negative affect in the visual arts group.
Conclusion: Creative arts therapy is a well-tolerated and age-appropriate intervention to improve positive affect of traumatized adolescents exposed to gun violence.