Group Interactive Art Therapy: Its Use in Training and Treatment

By Diane Waller | Go to book overview

Case example 8

Splitting in the group

Forces of good and evil

This group is the same one mentioned in Case Example No. 7. The stage of the group I want to discuss follows the completion of the life-sized portraits and discussion of that process and focusses on the point where group members reflect on the symbolic selves around the room and decide what they wish to add or change to them.

One man, B., had made a portrait of himself instead of his partner (see Figure 25). He described it as absolutely right and he was satisfied at the negative image he had portrayed. Group members pointed out that he had ignored the task and his partner and he said he didn’t care. He was very pleased with his painting. He sat with folded arms, looking both defiant and cheerful. Several members pointed out the devilish appearance of the painting and wondered why he had made it so evil-looking. It was covered with a huge spider’s web which did look quite menacing.

The group were generally rather annoyed with his refusal to contemplate why he had ignored A. so that in fact he had two paintings of himself, one which A. had done and one he himself had done. (They had been used to working in groups where confrontation was the norm and where lack of consideration for others was discouraged. ) B. had very elaborate tattoos on his arms and A. had put these on the painting (Plate 7b). B. was not happy about attention being drawn to them and wanted A. to remove them.

When it came to the time after the discussion when members could negotiate to work on any portrait, B. stood in front of his painting and said nobody was to touch it. Several people tried to persuade him to let them add something ‘light’ to the darkness of the painting but he refused angrily. One woman approached with a cut-out figure of a child which she wanted to place on the painting. He shouted at her to get out. She was the only one to persist in trying to interact with him and the painting and eventually he relented enough to draw a line across the bottom of the picture and allowed her to place cut-out figures there.

The group were interacting freely around the portraits. One man had negotiated with a pair (male and female) to place his painting between them, so they created a trio (see Plate 7c). Others negotiated to add, change, etc.

-126-

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