Gituro Wainaina, Nyawira Kuria


The purpose of this paper was to establish the effectiveness of art therapy as a treatment for
depression at Langata Women Prison (LWP) in Nairobi. The paper was anchored on Bandura’s
social learning theory and cognitive behavioral theory and the paper’s unit of analysis constituted
imprisoned women at LWP. The Becks Depression Inventory (BDI-II) assessment 21-item self-report
scale, both in English and Swahili was given to a sample size of 217 women prisoners’ in-order to
identify the presence and severity levels of depression. Out of the 217 respondents, 104 were those in
prison and 113 in remand. However, the research was only done with those in remand (ordinary and
capital offenders) as those in the prison had on-going programs that would be disrupted if they were
to be engaged in the research. The BDI-II (pre-test) questionnaires were distributed to determine the
levels of depression. A sample of 113 from the remands was selected based on their levels of
depression and 55 responded. The treatment group met for six sessions once a week for two hours.
After six weeks group was subjected again to BDI-II (post-test). Results indicated that most of the
incarcerated women suffered from severe depression; there were more remands who were found to
have depression; there were more cases of severe depression cases in both remand and prison and
less inmates in prison with mild depression. However, there was a marked difference of moderate
levels of depression between remands and prisoners, with those in remand having a higher level of
moderate depression. From the analysis, there was a significant reduction of depression after
administering art therapy (post-test) versus before art therapy (pre-test) treatment. The findings
support the findings of various studies that have been done in other countries. Based on the results
from this paper, at the time of arrest, mental assessment should be done and those that require further
assessment need to be referred to a psychiatrist as well as support from a psychologist; special
attention should be given to mothers; and for those who end up in prison, periodic screening should
be undertaken together with counselling and alternative therapy. In addition, the legal system should
escalate court matters to avoid prolonged stay in remand and enhance public awareness on mental
health. This research focussed on incarcerated women at LWP and therefore the results should be
generalized with caution to other prisons in Kenya. Another limitation was that some respondents
tended to minimize and at the same time exaggerate symptoms and the self-administered data
collection questionnaires depended on self-report, without medical records or corroborative history.
For further research a similar intervention could be replicated in other women and men prisons, as well as compare depression amongst women and men prisoners.

Key Words: art therapy, Bandura’s social learning theory, Becks Depression Inventory II, c

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.