Group Interactive Art Therapy: Its Use in Training and Treatment

By Diane Waller | Go to book overview

Case example 4

Life processes in small group environments

I had the idea during a three-day training workshop in Greece, to ask the participants to continue working with their ‘self-boxes’ by dividing into three small groups of four and making an environment for their boxes. They selected who they wanted to work with and went to different parts of the room. One small group then decided to go into the ante-room where all the materials were kept. They announced this to the rest of the group, saying that people should get materials out straight away (which they did without much protest!) Then they shut the door, thus effectively cutting themselves off from the rest and from myself, unless we chose to open the door and enter. Nobody did.

Group 1 decided to suspend their boxes from the ceiling. D. had the idea of making a mobile so they fixed some string across the room to hold the boxes. First they suspended A. ’s box, which was full of cotton wool, then took a pole and fixed F. ’s and N. ’s at either end. D. (the only man in the group) put his box in the middle ‘for balance’. He called out ‘This is the balance of power’ (see Plates 4a and 4b).

Group 2 created a ‘play room’. They fixed large sheets of paper on the wall and painted a nursery. They made a shelf and put toys and the TV set in. They cut out paper dolls and filled the space with scenes of childhood (see Plate 5a).

Group 3 remained a mystery. There were many comings and goings and laughter. At one point, they went out of the building (breaking the boundaries), it transpired to buy a tape of music. It was interesting that Group 3 had blocked the materials off (the ‘goodies’ provided by the parents) as well. With the whispering and laughter coming from behind the closed door, there was a strong feeling of sexuality—taking over the parents’ bedroom, perhaps.

At the agreed time to finish the art-making process, the groups visited each other’s environments. The main focus was Group 3. They had created a sensual environment, complete with candles, dishes of burning incense, a tape of sultry music was playing (Arabic music). An incredibly dark, secret and seductive space. A skirt was draped on a chair together with a mask and

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