What Makes Art Therapy Essay Sample

10 October 2017

Although ocular look has been used for mending throughout history. art therapy did non emerge as a distinguishable profession until the 1940s. Given its short history. “art therapy” exists as a term that describes a aggregation of diverse patterns held together by a belief in the mending value of art devising. ( American Art Therapy Association [ AATA ] . 2010 ) Though art doing itself is inheritably curative. it is the creative activity of an art object and the debut of a “third object” into the antecedently two- manner duologue between client- healer that defines and distinguishes the subject.

Art as Therapy versus Art Psychotherapy

Presently there is no cosmopolitan definition to Art Therapy. With the changeless interplay of assorted determining forces. art therapy has changed significantly since its early beginnings ( Jones. 2005 ; Malchiodi. 2007 ; Waller. 1991 ) . Given the challenge to specify the subject. there is a demand to non merely merely acknowledge. but besides form. the assorted definitions of art therapy. Malchiodi ( 2007 ) attempted to picture the tenseness among assorted schools of thought by neatly spliting them into two cantonments – “Art as Therapy” and “Art Psychotherapy” . Referred to every bit “Art as Therapy” . this impression of art therapy focuses on the “inherent mending power” of the originative procedure of art devising. The procedure of art devising remains cardinal and is seen as an experience that can take to emotional reparation and personal transmutation. ( Malchiodi. 2007 ) A strong focal point on the procedure of art devising could be seen in AATA ( 2010 ) ’s official definition of Art Therapy:

( Art Therapy ) is based on the belief that the originative procedure involved in artistic self-expression helps people to decide struggles and jobs. develop interpersonal accomplishments. manage behaviour. cut down emphasis. increase self-esteem and self-awareness. and achieve penetration.

— AATA Website

On the other manus. “Art Psychotherapy” differs to “Art as Therapy” in that it sees art as a mean for symbolic communicating. By foregrounding the art image or graphics. a triangular relationship is formed between the healer. the client and the art. Artistic looks such as drawings and pictures was said to play a important function in “achieving penetration ; deciding struggles ; work outing jobs ; and would take to positive alterations. growing. and healing” . ( Malchiodi. 2007. p. 5 ) The alone part of a client- therapist- image three would be demonstrated in assorted parts of this essay.

Theoretical Orientations- An Eclectic Approach

In pattern. art therapists build on assorted theoretical orientations for mending intent. Sometimes regarded as an interdisciplinary signifier of psychotherapeutics. art therapy is basically a synthesis of art and therapy ( Malchiodi. 2007 ; Rubin. 1999. 2010 ; Vick. 2003 ) . With the changeless interplay of assorted determining forces. the range of cognition art healers possess is rooted in a assortment of beginnings including ; developmental. psychological. educational. cognitive and transpersonal positions. ( AATA. 2010 ) As the very nature of art assumes a dynamic unconscious ( Rubin. 2004 ) ; many believe that psychoanalytic theory still dominates art therapy. However. both the AATA and the British Association of Art Therapy [ BAAT ] described art healer to be of a assortment of orientations. The claim is backed up by research conducted in 2000. where 21 % of art healers described their theoretical orientation as “eclectic” and a diverseness of theoretical attacks indicated gestalt. behavioural. cognitive. psychoanalytic and Jungian were being cited at similar degrees. ( Elkins & A ; Stovall. 2000 )

Post-modern approaches- Art therapy melding with systemic therapy

Turning up parallel to group therapy and household therapy. art therapists readily encompass the systemic position and a postmodernist manner of thought. Family art therapy was recognized in 1989 by AATA ; since so the convergence of art therapy and household therapy has been smooth and has achieved much success. ( Arrington. 2001 ; Riley. 2001 )

Family art healers blend a committedness to the usage of art with a committedness to believe systemically. The usage of art as “container for emotions” . for case. canastas seamlessly with one of household therapy’s nucleus construct “meta-communication” . In meta communicating. households were invited to step out of the job and to “gaze” at it from an external stance. by affecting an art merchandise the job is automatically externalized and made touchable. leting the household to work as a squad to suppress “it” . Furthermore. art devising is so a ready to hand tool in household mediation scenes as messages excessively delicate or powerful to be expressed in verbal signifier could so be expressed in ocular signifier. ( Rubin. 2004 )

Pulling from the above illustration. one could see that art therapy is a unstable mode that may be adapted to back up other theoretical attacks to therapy ; but such convergence does non go on in a insouciant mode but is frequently a considered integrating of a reciprocally supportive model. ( Riley. 2001 )

Treatment Goal– The Activation of a triangular relationship

As mentioned above when specifying “Art as Therapy” . art devising in itself is inheritably curative. Whilst the freedom to utilize art stuffs could supply clients with a touchable sense of control ; art devising besides has the ability to bring forth self-esteem. encourage hazard taking and experimentation. learn new accomplishments and enrich one’s life. In a clinical scene where patients experience restricted in certain facets of life. art devising could heighten a patients’ ego regard by ; giving them an involvement. demoing them an ability within their physical capacity and assisting them develop their individualism and personality. ( Malchiodi. 2007 ) Nevertheless. the impression of “art as therapy” has its restrictions. Though valid. it does non explicate Art Therapy’s peculiarity to other signifiers of therapy such as Recreational therapy or Occupational therapy.

The symbolic power of an art image

Art therapy should widen beyond diversion and relaxation. In 1989. the BAAT‘s functionary definition for art therapy started by saying. “The focal point of art therapy is the image” and highlighted the procedure as affecting “the Godhead. the artifact and the healer. ” ( Waller. 1991. p. 3 ) The innovators of art therapy Margaret Naumburg and Edith Kramer both see art as a typical platform from which the client and healer could prosecute in and derive penetrations from. Naumburg believed that art had symbolic qualities that came from the subconscious whilst Kramer saw art as a medium to decide the struggle between Idaho. self-importance and superego. ( Waller. 1991 )

The International Art Therapy Organization ( 2010 ) further explains the power of art as a transitional object by acknowledging its symbolic nature: “When words are non plenty. we turn to images and symbols to state our narratives. ” In Sessionss. art therapists strive to acknowledge the gestural symbols and metaphors that might be hard to show in words or in other modes. Some even believe that for experiential jobs that have no rational solutions the symbolic map of the humanistic disciplines offers at least a partial manner of response and therefore alleviation. ( Blatner. 1992 )

In group scenes. for case ; Malchiodi ( 2007 ) believes the most of import advantage of utilizing art look is its ability to do that group’s procedure. interaction and dynamic seeable and touchable. This enabled ideas and possibilities to be anchored. In fact. group therapists believe that art therapies enhance inclusiveness for the sharing imagination normally feels closer than sharing in verbal signifier ; whilst the usage of symbols could easy remind clients of shared subjects and cut down sense of solitariness. ( Blatner. 1992 ; Yalom. 1985 )

Art therapy besides aims for a psychotherapeutic emotional release for clients. The symbolic nature of art therapy could entree ideas and feelings deep in one’s subconscious that otherwise would non be reached. Kramer respects art as the “container of emotions” whilst most healers agree that art is a manner of showing interior feelings. As it is more hard to decrypt the significance of symbols in a additive manner many instances clients find art a safe medium to show “dangerous” feelings. ( Malchodi. 2007 ; Waller. 1991 )

The ineluctable intervention end
Although art therapy is non the lone signifier of therapy that incorporates an experiential component. the experiential nature of art itself makes the battle of a client’s engagement a intervention end that can non be overlooked. In art therapy. attending of the person is important. As the medium itself is a manner of communicating. engagement begins the minute a client starts researching different mediums. ( Rubin. 2010 )

During creative activity of the art it is the clients. alternatively of the healer. that give the art merchandise personal significance. Very few therapies depend to such a grade on the active engagement of the person. When an art merchandise is created. the permanency of it offers a alone country of engagement ; clients can continuously look at it. be intrigued by it. and finally be challenged to research their significances. ( Blatner. 1992 ; Degen & A ; Lansen. 2006 ; Malchodi. 2007 ; Riley. 2001 )

Effective therapies require more than an rational analysis but instead an experience of how to practically use new apprehensions in life. Guaranting that the client is “present” is peculiarly of import when a katharsis return topographic point. as the client can necessitate a really direct experience in order to incorporate it. By remaining in the present minute. and by sing their struggles clients bit by bit expand their degree of self-awareness and therefore personal growing. ( Blatner. 1992 ; Yalom. 1985 )

Battle of the client with art is peculiarly helpful in group work. The hands-on experience could arouse a sense of “playfulness” in grownups. assisting them communicative and “let go” of fright. failure and rejection. The experimental nature of art devising could besides re-direct easy distrait clients into speech production in the “here-and-now” ; while the demand for active engagement in doing art can assist equalise engagement. All these factors are cardinal to prolonging a more cohesive and safe group environment for curative growing. ( Blatner. 1992 ; Liebmann. 2004 ; Malchodi. 2007 )

Client groups- from catholicity to specialty

Art devising is about universally possible which entreaties to art therapy’s diverse patronage group. Art therapy can work with grownups with a scope of troubles including depression. habit-forming and self- destructive behaviours. larning troubles and psychotic unwellnesss ( Rubin. 2010 ) . Some art healers attempted to specify more specifically which patient population art therapy is intended for. There were efforts. for case. that looked at descriptions of psychological provinces to determine whether those with marginal personality and psychotic organisations are appropriate for art therapy ( Dudley. 2004 ) . However. as everyone has the ability to be originative through art it could move as a footing for a battalion of therapy signifiers.

Immune clients

Art therapy facilitates the curative procedure of working with immune clients. In therapy. antecedently suppressed subconscious feelings might happen fearfully or erratically. Denial and opposition in therapy. though apprehensible. might impede the curative procedure. Art therapy’s abstract nature could subtly and increasingly cut down this opposition. Whilst some persons tend to be defensive. when talking in abstract footings or by deflecting themselves. art can bit by bit increase the explicitness of the symbolic representation of emotionally- loaded thoughts. and to see the subconscious moral force more vividly. For case. the usage of art could get the better of turning away tactics that could be easy used by the client in verbal therapies such as ; interrupting oculus contact. narrating in the yesteryear or speech production in general footings. ( Blatner. 1992 ; Liebmann. 2004 ) Through detecting objectified stuff. art therapy allows a temporal flexibleness for continued geographic expedition. contemplation and comparing over a period of clip. where words can be easy forgotten and denied.

By using an external object. an art healer could besides command the grade of meddlesomeness. which allows for greater flexibleness. By seting the nature of art activity a therapy could be both directing and non- directive. catering to the differing demands of clients. For case. Murphy ( 1998 ) conducted research and concluded that working in a non- directing manner with a sexually abused client is more appropriate as they needed to experience in control particularly as they could happen way intrusive.

Interrupting through opposition in verbal therapies

Art therapy is besides known for its suitableness for clients who feel restricted in the usage of verbal therapies. ( Blatner. 1992 ; Liebmann. 2004 ) In the field of psychopathology. a recent survey ( Degen & A ; Lansen. 2006 ) has found that art therapy is a really promising signifier of intervention for alexithymia – the incapacity to spot and verbally express emotions.

Having a therapy that centres on the contemplation of art differs from verbal therapy in that there is no inevitable beginning and terminal as in a verbal narrative. The term “spatial matrix” is used to depict the dynamic nature of art. As art look surpasses regulations of linguistic communication. such as sentence structure. grammar. logic and right spelling ; it can show many complexnesss at the same time. ( Malchiodi. 2007 ) Contradictory elements can be included ; love and detest for a household member. for case. could co- exist. Many persons who experience contrasting emotions in speedy sequence frequently struggle to joint what precisely it is that they are sing. The ability of art to incorporate self-contradictory elements helps people integrate and synthesise at odds feelings and experiences. ( Malchodi. 2007 ; Sullivan. 2003 )

Interpretation and appraisal in art therapy

The definition and range of art therapy have been influenced by mental wellness and medical scenes in which art look has been used as a signifier of intercession. The AATA ( 2010 ) defined art therapy as “mental wellness profession” where healers use their rating accomplishments to plan Sessionss for clients in accomplishment of curative ends and aims. The medical theoretical account has impacted on art therapy in assorted ways. with its influence on the assessment stage of therapy being the most controversial.

It is normally thought that art therapy is strictly about construing the content of the client’s artistic look. In modern psychological science. standardized diagnostic appraisal is emphasized particularly under the influence of projective pulling appraisals. with formalistic processs and standardised methods of reading. which developed in the twentieth century. The first drawing appraisal for psychological intents was created in 1906 by German head-shrinker Fritz Mohr ( Liebmann. 2004 ; Malchiodi. 2010 ; Vick. 2003 ) and since so the innovation of projective trials proliferate the field. Projective trials were claimed to observe injury. anxiousness. depression and psychiatric perturbation ; yet operational definitions were frequently equivocal. ( Choping. 1999 )

Notwithstanding. with the influence of the anti- psychopathology motion on the art therapy profession in the late sixtiess and early 1970s many art healers began to shun diagnostic testing and inquiry the cogency of healers doing interpretive premises. Art therapists seem be more comfy with an intuitive attack than other mental wellness professionals ; while they tend to be more “anti- authoritarian” and “anti- theoretical” ( Vick. 2003. p. 18 ) . they are more likely to improvize on the protocol of standardised appraisals to accommodate a peculiar intent. ( Dudley. 2004 ; Rubin. 1999 )

Acknowledging that mental patients are defenceless against the procedure of clinicians utilizing them for diagnosing. some art healers were concerned with the possibility of “image abuse” . It was argued that art diagnosing was built upon “narrow and typically idiosyncratic psychological theories” ( McNiff. p. 315 ) and such a additive attack frequently amounted to a signifier of image maltreatment where kids client and clients in mental infirmary frequently do non acquire the opportunity to talk for themselves but are alternatively judged upon others’ reading of their art merchandise.

Recently. some healers raised concern over the usage of psychiatric linguistic communication in appraisals as it set the scene for prepossessions originating from diagnostic labeling. It was believed that the labeling consequence would barricade the addressing of single. personal or socio-political context. which prevented an unfastened curative interaction. ( Dudley. 2004 )

Similarly. many art healers advocate non construing art but holding the forbearance to let the significance of the stuff to emerge. It was believed that art diagnosing obscures the deeper significances of art looks and blocks their healing powers. ( Mcniff. 2004 ; Riley. 2004 ) They are concerned with continuing the “soul and imagery” expressed in peoples’ art. instead than hold them interpreted and oriented to ends and results.

Some have regarded the different attacks towards appraisal as correspondent to that between the US and the UK. ( Gilroy and Skaife. 1997. ( Jones 2004 ) Possibly rooted in the US health care system. it was observed that the US adopts a more problem- resolution approach— where art is used to arouse stuff for diagnosing. forecast and intervention. However in the UK there is a strong influence from psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theory. art is seen as inherently mending through a shamanic and religious manner. Through its official web site. the BAAT had made a statement that clearly states its stance towards the diagnostic usage of imagination:

“ The art healer is non chiefly concerned with doing … diagnostic assessment… The overall purpose of its practicians is to enable a client to consequence alteration ad growing on a personal degree through usage of art materials…”

Despite the difference in attitude towards appraisal. the BAAT adopted a instead inclusive attack to specifying art therapy: “Art Therapy is a signifier of psychotherapeutics that uses art media as its primary manner of communicating. ” In world. tenseness and struggles are ineluctable for a turning profession. yet most art healers build on common land and portion the same passion and belief.

To reason. the chief difference between art therapy and other signifiers of psychotherapeutics is that it is a “three- manner process” ; apart from the client and the healer there is the presence of the image. Making the subconscious touchable. lasting. discernible is a alone intervention end to art therapy ; with such art therapy is flexible plenty to suit different theoretical orientations and attacks to assessment. With the alone quality offered by art. art therapy is about universally applicable.


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