Group Interactive Art Therapy: Its Use in Training and Treatment

By Diane Waller | Go to book overview

Introduction

When preparing this book, I spent a lot of time trying to decide how to incorporate the case examples. Should I intersperse them among the theoretical sections of the book or put them all or most of them in one section. I decided to put the majority into this section, but have cross-referenced so that theoretical points made earlier on can be illustrated by easy reference to a case example.

Included in this section are case examples from training groups which constituted elements in introductory or ongoing art therapy programmes, from mixed staff-resident workshops in a therapeutic community, and from patient groups in different settings. My role as conductor obviously changes according to the function of the group, although there are many features in common between training groups and patient groups.

When preparing introductory courses which contain experiential art therapy groups, I am careful to structure the programme so that these groups are firmly contained: that is, participants have plenty of theoretical and small group discussion periods to process the material. As will be clear from the examples, the dynamics of interactive groups are powerful. Herein lies their effectiveness in teaching trainees about the process of group art therapy: either for groups or for individuals.

The same precautions apply to patient groups: as others have confirmed, much care needs to be taken in ascertaining that the patients themselves and other colleagues are clear about the nature of the group; that they don’t think it is ‘recreational’; that they are aware that patients will be stirred up by the process and that this can be positive, requiring support and understanding from other staff and not increased doses of medication.

One aspect of working abroad which I have had to get used to is having an interpreter present throughout the training groups. This was a strange experience at first, not being able to communicate directly with participants. I did not want to specify that people should speak English as not only might this requirement exclude people in their own country, but it is difficult to express oneself at a deep level, unless one is more or less fluent in a foreign

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