Alternative Complimentary Therapies
Chapter 4 Part 1
What are the therapeutic properties of self-drawings?
The previous chapter identified the importance of the art
therapist. Carrying out their role professionally is most valuable
in order to help the schizophrenic sufferer get the most benefit
from their drawings.
When engaging in drawings of the self and working through their
understanding and significance at that time the individual should
start to gain therapeutic properties from their experiences.
One of the main activities involved when drawing the self is
self-expression. According to Diane Methot, an occupational therapist
as cited in Moreau (2001, p18) art as an expression can help
individuals with mental illness, she suggests,
... art can be a safe way for people with mental illness to
express their thoughts and feelings, regardless of ability or
technique. This is re-enforced by one particular schizophrenic,
called Bart who remarks on creative expression helping him recover
from schizophrenia, here he claims, it supported him through
his illness, "I managed to turn to art as a passion, and
it carried me through a lot,..
According to Warren (1993, p42), "The goal of one aiding
others through the visual arts is to see positive change in self-esteem
and self-expression, and an increase in motor skills and the
quality of physical and emotional health of the persons with
whom we work."
Self-expression allows the individual to communicate their feelings,
thoughts and perceptions onto their artwork. This carries a number
of advantages. With reference to the schizophrenic sufferer,
it allows them to give meanings and understanding to their confused
state of mind. As the individual draws themselves significant
characteristics appear. Though discussion with the therapist
the client can gradually make sense of the artwork, in turn,
helping them understand and gain control over their schizophrenic
Eventually the sufferer can find a real sense of self through
their mixed up perception of who they are. When addressing the
art therapy process, in particular the positive outcomes. Dalley,
Rifkind and Terry (1993, p4) claim, "Real growth comes when
the person in therapy is able to have a sufficiently clear sense
of self that they are able to differentiate themselves in relationship
to the other."
The materials used to create the self-portraits have valuable
outcomes attached to them. Dalley (1984, p176) explains how the
materials can help the individual, claiming,
"Painting and drawing, the use of shape, colour, and symbol
can be powerful communications and can provide a more direct
link with the individual's state of being."