Alternative Complimentary Therapies
Chapter 2 Part 3
Most of my paintings consist of only two or three colours
- red, black and occasionally yellow... When I am depressed,
black represents total despair and a great sense of personal
worthlessness: red represents anger of an almost suffocating
kind - anger directed mainly at myself because of this sense
of worthlessness: the occasional use of yellow suggests feeble
and rare glimmers of a hope for a future. when I have drawn a
figure, it is usually a black silhouette because I do not want
to acknowledge that the figure bombarded by despair and anger
Although this account does not state the condition of the
patient, the symptoms could be associated with schizophrenia.
This narrative reveals the individual learning to analyse and
discover for themselves who they are. By working alongside the
art therapist the client will try to put all the pieces together
to eventually gain understanding and meaning.
A psychoanalytic concept called transference can develop through
the response to self-drawings. The patient recalls early childhood
experiences, and the feelings associated with these are transferred
or put onto the therapist and the artwork, thus bringing out
deep seated childhood memories and experiences. These can sometimes
influence the present. Depending on the theoretical framework
from which the therapist belongs this will influence the way
the issues will be worked through. For example, they may be explored
within the here and now or the client may be encouraged to regress
back to a particular time or event. In contrast to transference
is counter-transference, here it is the therapist's own feelings
and responses to the client and their artwork. Although this
would not be the main focus for the therapist, the schizophrenic's
symptoms would be, they do need acknowledging if they arise.
The therapist may verbalise these feelings in association with
the patients artwork.
Although this is seen sometimes as creating a problem, in
that the therapist may influence the client through their own
understanding where it may be inappropriate.
According to Dalley, Rifkind and Terry (1993) the patient
and the therapist experience a range of feelings and responses
to the art images produced, both of these can be understood as
significant. The therapists' own feelings can indicate how the
client is feeling, therefore it is important for the therapist
to distinguish their own feelings from that of the client's.
(Kuhns 1983:21) as cited in Dalley, Rifkind and Terry (1993,
p10) identifies the importance of transference and counter-transference
and explains how they can be understood in relation to the therapeutic
The process is one of "mirroring" reverberating
and reflecting back and forth through several layers of consciousness;
the consciousness of the object, of the artist, who creates the
presentation of the self through the object or in the object
of the beholder, who responds to all the layers with accumulation
of conscious and unconscious associations which include deeply
private nodal points in the unique experience in which there
are correspondences, but not identities in others.
The idea that the art therapist can have a great impact on
their client and can affect the direction the client is taking
will be discussed in the following chapter, the role of the art
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