Group Interactive Art Therapy: Its Use in Training and Treatment

By Diane Waller | Go to book overview

Chapter 1

Groups and art therapy

SOME BRIEF BACKGROUND NOTES ON GROUP PSYCHOTHERAPY AND ART THERAPY

The theory and practice of group psychotherapy, in its many forms, has been well documented; that of art therapy, less so. Events following the Second World War led to group psychotherapy and art therapy being integrated into rehabilitation movements—especially into the rehabilitation of war-traumatised victims. In 1942, Wilfred Bion from the Tavistock Clinic was placed in charge of the military training and rehabilitation wing of Northfield Hospital where he had to rehabilitate and return up to 200 men to the army. He used ‘group dynamics’ to encourage the men to learn a way of coping and adapting to inter-group tensions. Although Bion and his colleague Rickman were successful in rehabilitating many patients, their approach was not appreciated in the prevailing military-oriented system and they were transferred. Foulkes went to Northfield in 1943 where he joined Harold Bridger, Joshua Bierer and Tom Main. They too made use of group psychotherapy but took care to integrate their approach into the overall treatment philosophy and hence were able to stay on, with much success (see Main, 1946; Foulkes, 1948; Aveline and Dryden, 1988). After the war, Bion, Sutherland and Bridger went to the Tavistock Clinic and were joined by Henry Ezriel. Foulkes went to the Maudsley and Main went on to the Cassel Hospital where he developed the concept of an analytically-oriented therapeutic community. Joshua Bierer organised social clubs among patients, using Adlerian concepts as a basis for his work (see Bierer, 1948). He was responsible for forming the British Association for Social Psychiatry which emphasises the importance of patients’ own contribution to their treatment programmes.

In 1952 the Group Analytic Society was formed, together with a journal, Group Analysis, and later the Institute for Group Analysis was established by Foulkes and played a central role in developing training and standards of practice.

In the USA, important advances, deriving from social psychology, were made by Kurt Lewin and his colleagues. Lewin proposed that an

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