Group Interactive Art Therapy: Its Use in Training and Treatment

By Diane Waller | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

Conducting an interactive art therapy group

The extent to which a conductor believes that participants in a group are able to make their own choices, i.e. of themes or in structuring the group, is one of the main factors influencing their approach. In Chapter 1 we have seen how the discussion about theme-centred versus ‘non-directive’ groups dominated the art therapy literature on groups for some time. Personally I believe it is possible to work with themes which arise in both the artwork and the verbal interaction at the same time as drawing on insights from group analytic and interactive models. I think it would be very difficult, though, for the conductor constantly to provide emotive themes (i.e. draw your family) and work with transference or even with group-as-a-whole issues in any meaningful way. This would seem to limit the potential of the group to arrive at its own themes, or ‘resonances’ in its own time. It is possible, as I hope to show later, in a short-term training group for example, for the conductor to introduce open-ended projects designed to promote interaction such as ‘introduce yourself visually to the group’ which leaves members plenty of scope to be as open or closed as they feel able at that time. The conductor can also encourage expression of feeling around doing this task at the request of the conductor. In the early stages of a group, this constitutes ‘information sharing’ visually and verbally, and the conductor opens up the possibility of members being able to react freely to him or herself. The group interactive art therapist accepts that group members are at liberty to ignore any suggestion he or she makes in favour of their own resolutions.

Aveline and Dryden have succinctly described the features of an interpersonal or interactive group:

The philosophical underpinning in existentialism in the interpersonal group leads to a distinct emphasis on members taking responsibility for their actions, being authentic and exercising their freedom of choice, a feature of practice of gestalt group therapy too. This serious note is balanced by an emphasis on humour, an element shared with psy-

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