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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 sufferer.

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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