Therapist Artwork During Sessions

August 30, 2011

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art created by me during a session

A few days ago (on my Facebook Art Therapy Spot Wall) I posted some images of artwork that I had recently created during art therapy sessions with my clients. 

Someone asked me some very interesting questions about my process in terms of making art during sessions. Below is my first response to some of these questions, and I hope this will inspire some more dialogue around the topic. 

I was asked: Is your art work reflecting the thinking of your clients? Is it a way of catharsis? Or do you sort out their problems by analyzing there art work?

There are different reasons that I will (or will not) choose to make art with my clients during a session, and more than anything it tends to be an intuitive decision at the time. One way of looking at therapist art making during sessions is having another form of “dialogue” with my client in addition to the verbal dialogue that it taking place. In looking at my own artwork after sessions, it often serves as a visual record for themes that came up during the session.

Although art therapists are trained in the theory of art “analysis” most art therapists do not actively analyze a client’s artwork during sessions. I feel that the client’s own associations to their artwork is the most important aspect when looking at the client’s artwork. In order for the processing of art to be meaningful, it is key for the client to find their own personal meanings within their artwork.

I will often create post-session art as a way to process my own feelings and thoughts after a session with a client. A while back I wrote a blog post and shared a few art pieces I had created after sessions, as a way of processing countertransference. A while back I wrote a short post about creating post-session imagery as an art therapist, and included a few abstract portraits I had done of some clients. If you are interested in checking out that post, follow this link: Art Therapy Spot: Countertransference

Do you ever create art during or after art therapy sessions with your clients? If so, how does your own art process help you to gain insight into your sessions? Does it deepen the therapeutic dialogue, or has it ever been a hindrance?

Join the conversation! My art therapy spot blog has a Facebook page here: Art Therapy Spot: Facebook

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