How is it that something I know SO well in practice is SO hard to put into words?
- Careful consideration for mediums
The one tool art therapists have, that verbal counsellors frequently do not, is the art. It is easy to recognise the power of the art to effect insight and transformation, yet the use of the art tool, and in particular the qualities of the medium, is often neglected. Understanding, observing and utilising the qualities of the medium can greatly enhance the therapeutic outcome.In Expressive Therapies Continuum, (Hinz, 2009) discusses the qualities of mediums as an important consideration in serving the therapeutic goal. Every medium and action engaged in the art therapy process can be examined and tailored to best serve the client’s goal.
Consider the size:Is the client best supported if the art to be created is large or small? Does the client need the art to grow what is being depicted, or does it need to be contained? A representation of current anxiety may best be represented on a small page if the therapeutic goal is served when the issue is small. Or perhaps the client has the necessary resources to see the ‘non-sense’ of the issue when it is created comically large?
Consider the bodily engagement with the size:Does the client become aggressive and demonstrative when the anxiety is large? Depicting the ‘large’ anxiety, where the bodily movements required to make such an image, would also be large, and somewhat uncontained, may be counterproductive.Perhaps the client has a small, simmering but well contained anxiety, the large page coercing his or her body to open out physically to create such an image may provide quite a release.Consider the medium itself:If the anxiety is due to uncontrollable elements in his or her life, choosing a less controllable medium will resonate with this sense of helplessness. Marbling is a highly uncontrollable medium, and can be used to resonate with a family’s sense of helplessness when a child is dying. No matter how hard the artist tries, the medium, will go its own way, much like the disease ravaging their child’s body.
Image : Caption : A 16 year old, with end stage Cystic Fibrosis, on being asked to create some heart designs. “It’s a bit like life really, no matter how hard you try, it just goes its own way. But then, there is some beauty still there, it’s just not the way I want.”
Try offering marbling to a client whose anxiety is caused through always being inflexible, controlled and controlling. Ask them to make a star in the design, and within a few minutes this client will be highly challenged by the medium. Will this assist the client in achieving the therapeutic goal?
All this Gobbledygook doesn’t even get close to capturing it…