Alternative Complimentary Therapies
Chapter 3 Part 1
The role of the art therapist
The previous chapter identified how schizophrenia can be expressed
through drawings of the self. The feelings and perceptions that
accompany schizophrenia can be recognised and self-drawings can
help to discover an identity that may be not too clear for the
In order for the individual to have a positive experience
during their time in therapy the art therapist is a significant
influence and is needed for a beneficial outcome.
One view in particular that stresses the importance of the role
of the art therapist is described by Warren (1993, p6),
In creative therapy the starting point for the development of
a supportive and creative environment is always the leader. The
leader is usually the most important factor in the direction
and the development of each individual involved in any session.
For the leader sets the tone, provides direction and chooses
the material in which the individuals will participate.
Art therapists are participants as well as observers in the
therapeutic process. They help clients make sense of their art
but do not tell them what something means. Sometimes the therapist
will point out important aspects that can be seen to be emerging
from the picture or the process. The therapist must take care
so not to interpret incorrectly or inappropriately. This could
have a detrimental effect on the patient. It may prevent the
individual from discovering and finding out for themselves. The
pictures created by the schizophrenic sufferer are unique to
them. The sufferer and only the sufferer will come to realise
their significance and meaning. Case and Dalley (1992)
Although mutual suggestion and exploration is needed, by both
the therapist and the patient to help piece together the meanings
of the images.
Sole interpretation by the therapist should be approached
with caution as it can cause problems if they are wrong.
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