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Alternative Complimentary Therapies

Chapter 3 Part 2

They need to ask the patient first for their understanding of their art. When discussing the importance of interpretation of artwork by art therapists Champernowne (1971) as cited in Dalley (1984, pxxi) reads,

Logical analysis and translation of pictured ideas into words can be dangerous and destructive in the hands of inexperienced therapists. This is why a good analysis for any therapist is a great advantage. He should then know how not to interfere. The art form has its own validity and to translate from one language to another is bound to bring loss or error.

This danger of interpretation is highlighted by (Winnicott 1965 b : 59-60) as cited in Case and Dalley (1992, p68), "Magical interpretations pre-empt the patient's separateness, he is robbed of a mind of his own... The clues provided by the patient facilitate the analyst's capacity to interpret..." The interpretation of the art and the art process experienced by the patient is mainly relevant to them because only they know the meanings behind their work, even if it is unclear at first. However, the therapist will see their progress, development and change and facilitate their client in a way that will benefit their needs at that time. Paintings of the self and other artwork can act as records of this. The skills and effectiveness of therapist's are very important in order for them to facilitate the clients development.

Self-figure drawings allow the therapist a means of gaining insight and clues into the individuals way of thought and their expression, particularly about themselves and how they perceive the world. Warren (1993)

For the schizophrenic patient the therapist must have a clear idea about the possible symptoms and experiences likely to occur. This is important so the therapist does not confuse the individual's personal traits with their illness.

The client's disclosure should be understood in terms of past and present. The individual's self-portraits may be drawn with one particular time and experience in mind and not necessarily how they maybe feeling at that time.

Therefore, communication is of most importance in order for there not to be a mistake made about the meanings placed on these times and experiences. The therapist needs to give clear instructions to the client and clarification should be used where it is needed.

A study carried out by Ball (2002) observed art therapy sessions to try to understand the therapeutic processes that lead to change. Identified in particular was the importance of the relationship between the therapist and the client. Ball (2002, p91) comments about the research, "This case showed that the mystery of change centred mainly around the emotional aspect of the therapeutic experience and the mutual influence of the therapist and client."

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