Spontaneous images of the group often arise during art therapy workshops. They are often linked to preoccupations of the group at that time—with the conductor, with their lives outside, with their interpersonal relationships elsewhere on the course.
During the final stages of a block training programme for medical personnel in Bulgaria, one member produced Plate 6a, which he described as a symbol of ‘the State’. It is a huge bulldozer which is about to crush two small people. They are standing rather precariously on top of two spheres which are themselves perched on somewhat fragile bases. The image is complex because the two people could be the intended future co-ordinators of the art therapy project or the two conductors or symbolic of male and female about to be overcome by the power of the group or the larger society outside.
The group were preoccupied at this time with the first phase of the training coming to an end. It was a very new venture for Bulgaria at a time when people felt themselves at the mercy of bureaucracy and ‘the State’. The group discussed the image and they were concerned that their new-found insight and enthusiasms (represented by the male and female conductors as they saw the two figures) would be crushed once the training had finished. They did not know if they had sufficient skills or ability to make the necessary changes in their situation to practise art therapy. The bulldozer was built to be heavy and difficult to move but it only has to move a short distance to crush the figures. The figures are holding out their arms—as if they could be offering a welcome to the heavy machine or on the other hand, asking for help. Someone said that perhaps the machine would stop there and leave the figures safely ‘on top of the world’.
This image (Plate 6b) was made by four doctors, preoccupied with their role