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Wyatt Ehrenfels January 20th, 2005 03:30 PM

Does Art Therapy Reclaim Lost Art?
I know little about art therapy, but if it engages clients actively by having them participate in the creation of something (rather than passively having them appreciate works of art), then I should think the very act of participating in art therapy is somewhat therapeutic and I should think it produces material of immense significance with respect to conceptualizing the client. This art is (and has been for some time) lost within the community of trained PhD and PsyD psychologists due in part to the need for programs driven by APA accreditation and managed care reimbursement policy to address only those aspects of assessment, diagnosis, & treatment that lend themselves to psychometric profiling, norming, and manualized training.

Wyatt Ehrenfels

hmazloomian January 23rd, 2005 10:19 AM

Re: Does Art Therapy Reclaim Lost Art?
I think you raise an interesting question that goes to the heart of how we view the people we work with. We also need to examine how we look at our own view of ourselves. If we believe ourselves to be learned dispensers of healing we are bound to treat people we treat as sick and “less than”. I prefer to see the populations I see as people who search for something to find their way again on their journey. Sometimes , as the case in adults with Autism with whom I work, I see them as unique artists who may need my ingenuity to enable them to make their art. One of my interns developed new types of brushes that made it easier for people with underdeveloped motor skills to make brush strokes with less effort. There is usually a challenge , a blockage or an obstacle in the path of our client artists. Our quest is to know what to do to assist and how to avoid getting in the way.

Martin Perdoux February 5th, 2005 07:41 PM

Re: Does Art Therapy Reclaim Lost Art?
Thanks for a great question. Not only does it reclaim lost art, art therapy is often found to reclaim lost soul, or as Thomas Moore writes in Care of the Soul, "soullessness in the standardization of experience." The psychotherapy and academic psychology you refer to in your original question is often concerned with curing, getting rid of symptoms. Art therapy, along with depth psychology attempt to care rather than cure. Thomas Moore explains his stance in the abovementionned book: "I try to give what is problematic back to the person in a way that shows its necessity, even its value." It is a process that ideally restores appreciation for a client's complexity and idiosyncracies. Art making with an art therapist (and to a certain extent without one) helps to reveal this rich complexity.
More inspiring Moore quotes about what to avoid: "Shallow therapeutic manipulations aimed at restoring normality or tuning a life according to standards reduces--shrinks--that profound mystery to the pale dimensions of a social common denominator referred to as the adjusted personality."
Yep! As James Hillman, the founder of archetypal psychology, said so pointedly last time I heard him speak, "You can't fix it! And besides, it ain't broke."

hmazloomian February 5th, 2005 10:15 PM

Re: Does Art Therapy Reclaim Lost Art?
Martin, I like what you had to say about this issue. It is in harmony of my philosophy of art therapy. I wrote a book chapter on Jungian art therapy and would like to share it with you sometime. For now I wanted to put this question to you. What about people who have abused others? I work with Adolecents who have sexually abused others. Part of my work is keep them responsible for the choices they have made in the past and to help them make better choices in the future. Is there nothing "broken" there? Can we not be a catalist to help the client "fix it"? How do we mirror back such "problematic" issues to the client if they are useing very strong primitive resistance to avoid feeling "bad" about their actions. I think I can learn somthing from this discussion and appy it in my practice. I look forward to what you have to say about it. Regards, Hoda

Martin Perdoux February 24th, 2005 11:23 AM

Re: Does Art Therapy Reclaim Lost Art?
Congratulations on your writing. I encourage writers to workshop their work with several groups, as the writing process should be collaborative and not solitary. I find that there are many levels of feedback to be integrated into the successive drafts of any writing. In the case of professional writing like the chapter you mention, I recommend having it read for content, ideas, developmental editing, by people in your field, or in neighboring fields. At the same time, it is important to have it workshopped by people who know nothing about art therapy, preferably seasonned creative writers, who can advise you on the craft of your prose. These people are an important test for the readability of your ideas, since ideally, even professional ideas should be understandable by a layperson.
Incidentally, I am available for individual writing mentoring, for a fee, but you could also create your own writing group for free. That is what most people do.

As for the second part of your question, you probably know more than I do about working with sexual predators. The quotes from Thomas Moore are about a more benign client population. I invite you to continue a thread on this work of yours. It seems to me that the preverbal depth of image work, like art therapy, is particularly indicated with people who resort to primitive defenses, just as it is for people with other addictions.

hmazloomian February 25th, 2005 03:03 AM

Re: Does Art Therapy Reclaim Lost Art?
Martin, Thanks for a important suggestion about how to improve the readability of my writing. I like your suggestion of starting a topic on the subject of art therapy with adolescents who have sexually offended. I will think about how I can present this. Regards, Hoda

hmazloomian November 2nd, 2005 08:35 PM

Re: Does Art Therapy Reclaim Lost Art?
I highly recommend Bruce Moon's book "Art and Soul which deals with this very issue in depth. Regards, Hoda

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