Group Interactive Art Therapy: Its Use in Training and Treatment

By Diane Waller | Go to book overview

Case example 13

Ending the group

What to do with the images and objects

Of course, each group finds its own way to resolve this problem. Unlike in a verbal group, when participants take themselves out of the room and out of the process, the interactive art therapy group has usually produced a large number of objects—symbolic selves, in fact.

Deciding what to do with these objects is an important part of the process, I believe. The objects belong to the group: they have reflected its process as well as the process of each individual. Who do they really belong to?

If they are simply left behind, the onus is on the conductor to dispose of them. This is rather difficult as they may still contain powerful symbolic content—apart from the practical difficulties of disposing of many large constructions and paintings.

One can never know what objects will be made and how they will occupy space. The ending has to include the objects. Some will have lost their symbolic content during the group—a picture that was so frightening or difficult to deal with on the first day may be seen in a different perspective at the end.

Groups can be very creative about resolving this problem. One student group, after a year’s experiential workshops, decided to burn all the paintings in an end-of-year ceremony. Building the bonfire (containing it safely was important) and placing the work on it was like a ‘happening’. I believe that some people saved a few pieces which they wanted to work on further themselves, but the group celebrated its end by the ritual fire.

A less dramatic way was as follows. All the paintings were removed from the wall by their original painter; they were rolled up. Boxes were assembled in a corner with space enough in between each for them to be picked up by their maker. Clay objects were placed on a board. Constructions made by the group were de-constructed carefully and the bits laid to one side. Individuals decided what to keep and what to throw away. Joint works had to be argued over but usually got thrown away. Some pieces were offered to the host community.

After the selection was made and unwanted pieces discarded, the room

-150-

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